Biebs, I Hear Ya!

Justin,

I saw in Relevant Magazine this past week that you are renewing your Christian faith. As a United Methodist minister, I am delighted for you. Way to go, man.

You credit your faith for getting you where you are in life. Me, too!

You talk about how put off you are with televangelists who threaten everyone with hell. I couldn't agree more. From what I read in the Bible, only God gets to make decisions like this.

You say you want to live like Jesus -- not to be Jesus -- but to live in his example of love and grace. This is a noble calling and one I hope to live into as well.

You talk about the dedication of our Lord to us in dying on the cross for our salvation. I am just as amazed by his commitment to humankind.

Lastly, I read where you said Jesus is the greatest healer of all. This has been very true in my life and in the lives of others I know.

I think you will find there are many of us in the Christian faith who get what you are saying and support you in your faith journey.

I also want to say I understand why you may have mixed emotions about the Church and organized religion.

As a campus minister, I hear a lot of young people talk about how they love Jesus yet not so much the Church and organized religion. I can see why.

First of all, Jesus is great. Let's face it, what's not to like? The Bible says he loved children, women, men, poor people, disabled folks, whores and tax collectors. No doubt he loves pop stars and campus ministers, too.

Jesus performed miracles. He challenged us to lead better lives. He commanded us to love God and each other as ourselves.

He also hacked off the religious leaders of his day who were making bad decisions. I reckon Jesus isn't happy with the preachers of today who are pushing people away from God with threats of eternal fire. It just isn't nice, not mention completely ineffective.

Then, there's the subject of the Church and organized religion.

Plenty of harm has been done in the name of both. It's not hard to find fault in human institutions. After all, they are run by humans -- humans who are in need of salvation, as is central to the Christian faith.

On the flip side, there is evidence that plenty of good has been done in the name of the Church and organized religion.

In my own experience, I have found love, fellowship, friendship, support, affirmation, peace and joy in church. I was baptized in the church as a small child, confirmed into the faith as a teenager and married there as a twenty-something.

I love the sound of worship in preaching, prayer and music. I love eating the bread and drinking the wine of Holy Communion and remembering that I am not alone in my faith, but part of something bigger than myself -- the Body of Christ, which is the Church universal.

Justin, welcome back to this sacred relationship with God and God's children. I am thankful for you and all those who choose to follow Jesus.

May God direct your path -- and all of our paths -- that we might truly represent Christ in this world. When we do, what's not to love? When we don't... well, I pray Jesus will heal us for the sake of a world in need of salvation, love and grace.