Sixteen months ago, Jefferson Bethke, a 24-year old Christian man wrote a poem and posted a video of himself performing it on YouTube. It expressed some of his struggles with the relationship between religion and faith. The video, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” went viral. Bethke has just released a new book, Jesus>Religion, that challenges religion’s status quo and unpacks the message of his provocative video. The book has been garnering a lot of attention — earlier this week, he taped a segment for the George Stroumboulopoulos Show which is slated to air on Friday, November 1 on CBC TV. Also as part of the Canadian branch of his book tour, Jefferson spoke at a worship service at LIFT Church (McMaster University), was interviewed on 100 Huntley Street, and on Tuesday, October 29, gave a presentation at Redeemer to an audience of about 350 people, including many high school students. Ironically, given the title of both the video and the book, Jefferson Bethke’s story gives much hope for the church and young Christians today. Bethke’s spoke on the Prodigal Son from Luke 15. As he read through the chapter, he wove in stories of his own faith journey and engaged the audience with humour and charisma as well as a humble and grateful attitude. He encouraged people to think about their relationship with God as Covenant versus Contract. “If you are an employee and you do something wrong, you get fired. God’s not like that, if His child does something wrong, the first thing He wants is for that child to come to him for help.” Following his talk he engaged in a question and answer session with the audience. Given Bethke’s focus on love, acceptance and grace vs hypocrisy and judgement, he was asked about how he deals with the issue of mutual accountability. “We need to be accountable to one another. My generation doesn’t like accountability, but that’s to our detriment.” Jefferson gave the picture of a tree growing alone and having to weather a strong storm. He talked about how a strong storm can break a single tree, but trees that grow with each other are able to bend and support each other, thereby weathering storms much more successfully. It was exciting, and an honour to host this young man as part of his tour. Many young people heard an awesome talk that focused on God’s amazing grace and the character of a personal relationship with Jesus. They heard it in ways that captured their attention and brought fresh and relevant analogies to age old biblical truths. And they participated in this experience on a campus that was welcoming and hospitable to them and their questions.