A joyous proclamation

By Carleton Hanson

God has laid on my heart recently to write about Jesus and Christianity. So often I find that people toss around these two words without fully understanding the goodness that lies behind them. In many cases Christians are perceived to be self-righteous, angry, or fake and because of this, Christianity and Jesus are given a bad name. While it is very true that there many prideful, irate, and phony “Christians,” they do not and can not take away from the power of Jesus and the delight that comes with following in His footsteps.

I hope that I will be able to show that Christians are more than just angry prudes and that Christianity is more than a stack of rules and “moral suggestions.” I also want to make clear that my goal is not to whine or pout about opposition to Christianity, but rather to illuminate the goodness and power of God and to share the joy that He has put in my heart.

So often I fear that Christianity degenerates into battles over complex theology to the point that we forget many of the simple and wonderful things that Jesus has promised us. Take for example, Jesus’ statement in Matthew 11:28-29. He tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Isn’t this wonderful? Who among us at Macalester isn’t weary and burdened? Who among us doesn’t carry baggage from past choices, our current lifestyles, or stress? If we let them, these burdens will destroy us; they are simply too much for us to handle. None of us can or were meant to carry them alone, and there is great joy in the discovery that we don’t have to! We are granted freedom from worry, freedom from spiritual oppression, and freedom to live without regret or shame. We are given the choice to limp through life pretending that everything is fine or to humbly lay our troubles at the feet of Jesus and be free of the fear and fatigue they bring.

Not only does Jesus offer to liberate us from our burdens, but he also satisfies the burning desires of our hearts. In John 4: 13-14, Jesus tells us “everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I give him will never thirst.” As far as I know, all of us are looking for some sense of “completeness.” Perhaps we truly feel alive when we are making music, or competing in athletics, or debating a particularly controversial issue. Have you noticed that none of these things satisfy us forever? The song always ends, the opposing team always goes home, and heated discussions eventually fizzle and grow cold. While these things do come from God’s storehouse of goodness, they are but a fragment of the greater fullness that we receive when we go to Jesus and ask Him to satisfy out thirsts and desires. We are not forced to forfeit out talents and passions in this process, but rather we submit them to God and discover that He will use them for His glory. It is in this that we find the purpose and completeness we are striving for.

These two promises are just the tip of the iceberg, but I hope that they will act as a breath of fresh air amid lofty theological and political discussions that have come to surround Christianity. Perhaps these points are too simple for some, or maybe they sound “quaint” or “clich’¨,” but I can say from personal experience that both have had a profound impact on my life. There is great power and joy behind them. There definitely is a place for theological debate in Christianity, but if we forget or ignore the simple and wonderful promises of Jesus and focus only on lofty arguments, we will become cold and bitter. We will miss out on God’s goodness pouring into our lives and, even worse, we will miss out on a relationship with Jesus by turning Him into nothing more than an idea.

Contact Carleton Hanson ’09 at

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