Jesus Is Free, But He's Not Easy

They've done all of this, as Dr. Trollinger observes, without the information superhighway. In fact, they don't make efficient use of the old one. They worship for four hours, wear plain clothing, eschew technology, live in fairly rigorous accord with what they believe, and rely on horse and buggy.

She could have added that they don't bother to evangelize others. They don't chase after people on the street and in pubs offering them ashes and reassurance. And they don't agonize over whether they are growing numerically.

Why is this attractive? And why, where the church is growing, do people seem to be equally unequivocal and demanding? Because Jesus is free, but he isn't easy. And that, it turns out, is powerfully attractive.

That's the strange thing about creeds and spiritual practice. We were so worried that they might offend other people that we missed their fundamental purpose. They are meant to offend us. They are an offense to our appetites, our desires, our preferences, our sense of our own importance, and our pretensions to divinity—both collective and individual—left and right.

And in offending us, they are meant to create a place where God can find us. Like Lent, but all the time.

2/27/2012 5:00:00 AM