Is God Attractive?

06. Is God AttractiveForget the renaissance art or the hipster images of Jesus you have seen floating around the web. The truth is that Jesus probably wouldn’t make the cover of Men’s Fitness or onto the shoot of a Ralph Lauren advertising campaign. Roughly 700 years before Jesus was born the Hebrew prophet Isaiah predicted that Jesus would look like an average, unattractive, Middle Eastern guy (Isaiah 53:2). Jesus’ charisma and public profile probably didn’t stem from his good looks or smooth style. But that sort of attractiveness is not what I’m going for in this post.


Christians tend to lead in their evangelism by playing the evidence card … “You should believe in Jesus because there is good evidence” … But leading with that hand will at best convince people of the minimal facts of Jesus’ existence, resurrection, or identity. It doesn’t really tell them much about who God is, what Jesus did, or why that matters. And for many in Aussie culture who have grown up on a steady diet of Simpson’s sacrilege, clergy abuse scandals, papal wealth and weak platitudes posted on the road-signs of their local church, God is less of an innocuous fairytale and more of a nightmare. To them if the God of the Bible is real then the malevolent bully they’ve heard about is real; the kind of God who cramps our moral freedoms, incites intolerance, and halts the progress of society. Although it is true that perhaps some subconsciously suppress belief in God because they hate the light and love the darkness, my concern is that others reject God because the gospel the gospel seems like bad news.


Jesus needs to be relevant before Aussie’s care if he is real. The famed 17th century mathematician turned philosopher, Blaise Pascal, famously wrote in Pensées that “we should first make religion attractive; we should make good men wish it were true, and then show them that it is”. Although I think his statement doesn’t translate well theologically, I agree with his general point: we need to show people how Jesus would be GOOD NEWS before seeking to convince them that the gospel is TRUE NEWS. In other words, preach the gospel before you establish the truth of the gospel. Commend Jesus before you defend Jesus. The message of the gospel itself has power both to save and engender faith/trust (Rom 1:16; 10:14).

There are two complimentary tracks you can take to rightly show God, Jesus and the gospel as attractive (relevant). The first is to show how Jesus diagnoses and offers himself as the cure for the human condition we all face. The second is to show how Jesus’ life (works & words) along with the new earth he describes in Revelation 21-22 offers the only blueprint for how our deepest longings (peace, security, justice, love) can be realised at the societal level–Jesus’ way leads to human flourishing. These two tracks, like parallel tracks for a train, must run alongside each other in a faithful presentation of the gospel. These two will be the subject of our next 2 posts! Check out the first one next week…

Dan Paterson is director of operations at Traverse, and a Pastor at Ashgrove Baptist Church.