The Church of the Good Shepherd in Durham, North Carolina is a deliberately thoughtful Christian community of believers desiring to know and make known the Real Jesus for Real People in and for the Real World.
Someone has said, “God created us in His image and we keep trying to return the favor.” So it is that Americans conceive of an American Jesus. Conservatives conceive of a conservative Jesus. Liberals conceive of a liberal Jesus. And so on. At CGS, we recognize our own tendencies to imagine Jesus after our own biases and prejudices. But we’re committed to seeking the real Jesus together, as He is revealed in all of the Bible. And we’re committed to having our preconceived notions challenged and overhauled in light of what God says about Him in the Bible. If we get this right, Jesus will alternatively disturb and comfort us; offend and thrill us; deconstruct and reconstruct us; humble and grace us. Either way, the real Jesus does not leave us unchanged.
Aren’t you tired of hypocrisy? We are. Aren’t you tired of your own hypocrisy? It is no small thing to keep being confronted with our own pretense, image management, branding, etc. But it’s freeing to embrace the truth of our messy contradictions. None of us believes as much as we know. None of us lives like we wish or believe we could. One anguished father said to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.” At CGS, we believe that is the state of heart of every single one of us, and our church as a whole. Our aim is to come together, just as we are, certain of Jesus’ commitment not to leave us just as we are.
Karl Marx once called religion the “opiate of the people.” We sadly acknowledge that that is too often the case. At CGS, we’re not looking for escapism of any kind. We’re looking for the truth – however encouraging or disturbing it may be. Our world was wonderfully made. Our world is horrifically fallen. We believe that the only hope for our world is to bring it as it really is, before Jesus, as He really is. Our aim is twofold: (1) to bring our beautiful and broken world before Jesus, the only One who can heal it; and (2) to bring Jesus to this world which cannot heal itself, nor even come to Jesus on its own.
For us, the operative word is “Real.” 20th Century poet T.S. Eliot said people can only handle so much reality. At CGS, we aim for more and more “real” and less and less “fake.” We don’t promise that’ll always be enjoyable, but we believe that anything less just isn’t worth your time. Or ours.