LONDON – A Bishop in the Church of England has challenged Christians to help put an end to the cultural norm that says being bad is cool, while being good is boring.
"Make being good attractive," writes the Rt. Rev. Gordon Mursell, bishop of Stafford, in a pastoral letter published this month in parish magazines across the Diocese of Lichfield. Diocese of Lichfield
The attractiveness of being bad is nothing new, he said, pointing to Saint Augustine's search in the fourth century for a vision of being good "that was dynamic and attractive, not just 'not being bad.'"
"He found it in Jesus Christ and became one of the greatest Christian thinkers and teachers of all time," he wrote.
"But the problem remained. In the Middle Ages, thousands of altarpieces and wall paintings were produced, intended to encourage people to live good lives and not bad ones. The trouble was that, once again, hell somehow came over as 'the place to be' - hot, certainly, but nonetheless where it was all at.
"Heaven, by contrast, often looked like a kind of eternal PCC meeting. And who would want that?"
Bishop Mursell went on to praise authors like C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling and Philip Pullman for creating characters that were "both genuinely good and genuinely attractive."
He said that the world recession had made it "critically important" to give people a new vision of how to live.
"They've discovered, as St. Augustine did, that living for self, hoarding more goods, having 'a good time,' turns out to be fruitless. In the end, it doesn't satisfy."
A life lived for Jesus, he continued, was one that was good as well as attractive to others.
"Living for Jesus means making his teaching, his passions, his values, but above all his life, our own," he said.
"It means dying to self, to the old Adam (as St Paul put it), and accepting Jesus' invitation to put God and other people first, to lay down our old habits and receive the free and gracious gift of new life in Christ."
"And here's the miracle," Mursell highlighted. "When we do that we are changed. To our own genuine astonishment, we become attractive. People see something in us that challenges their values; and they want to know what it is.
"The evidence for the resurrection is changed lives."