Christianity

Christianity is centred around the historical figure of Jesus.

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Christians believe:

  • God created all people to live in relationship with Him
  • We often turn away from God
  • By believing in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection God offers us a new way of life ~ a personal relationship with Him.
  • God’s Holy Spirit is with us and in us in our daily lives, as comforter, friend and guide.
  • “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life” (John’s Gospel Chapter 3 verse 16)

Who was Jesus?

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.

He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter’s shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book. He never had an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn’t go to college. He never visited a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things one usually associated with greatness.

He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing – the only property he had on earth. When he was dead he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he remains the central figure of the human race, and the leader of humankind’s progress. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that have ever reigned, put together, have not affected the lives of people on this planet as much as that one solitary life.

Not just a nice bloke, then….?

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.” For more information click here.

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What Jesus never said:

God helps them who helps themselves

Although this might be a commonly held opinion in today’s society it was never part of Jesus’ teaching. In fact Jesus went out of his way to show that we should all go out of our way to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Jesus focused his ministry on the poor and the outcasts of society. The whole idea of the early Christians gathering together was to worship and to support one another. The book of Acts Chapter 2 from verse 43 in the New Testament of the Bible tells us about this.

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth

Although this statement can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible (Exodus Chapter 20 verse 24 & Deuteronomy Chapter 21 verse 20) and it gets worse

….a hand for a hand and a foot for a foot

Jesus was keen to point out that this was not the way to behave

In Luke’s gospel Jesus’ words are recorded as saying:

You have heard that it was said, ‘an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth’. But now I tell you; do not take revenge if anyone wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap you on the left cheek too.

Jesus wasn’t trying to make his followers the doormats to all nations but was pointing out that revenge is never good. More than that he pointed out not only should we not take revenge but that we should also love our enemies. (Luke 6 verse 27->) This is a long way from the old laws of the Torah “an eye for an eye….”

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

Jesus showed that it was always possible for people to change. Indeed he told a Jewish leader, Nicodemus, that no one could enter the kingdom of God unless they were born again. He explained this means a total change of life, being baptised by water and in the Spirit of God.

Some people learn new tricks and change quickly. Others take longer and find it much more painful. God rarely asks us to stay as we are…but to travel on a journey towards him. To do this we need constantly to change and grow. Trusting God to change us in his time.

All of us are called to learn and change all the time. As Steve Chalke in his book ‘He never said’ writes: “The truth is, if you are beyond learning new tricks, your not an old dog, you’re a dead dog!”

There’s no room for doubt

In the mid-eighties David Jenkins the then Bishop of Durham voiced doubts about some aspects of the Christian faith. To some this was blasphemous, to others there was a collective sigh of relief that even a Bishop could have doubts.

Jesus never pushed, forced, bludgeoned, cajoled etc. people into faith. He just told people how much God loved them! Faith doesn’t depend on our grasp of God, but on God’s grasp of us. In this there is always the possibility that we will doubt but never the chance that God will stop loving us.

Jesus always invited (and continues to invite) us to believe ~ we are never compelled

Paul Tillich sums it up: “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith. It is an element of faith” Where there is absolute certainty, there can be no room for faith!

Find out what Jesus did say: You can find THE BIBLE on line at http://www.ibs.org/niv/index.php

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What Jesus did say:

Jesus had a lot to say about many things and Christians know them all to be important. However, there are certain things that that are very important. In Mark’s Gospel chapter 12 verse 30 we read:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength…

Jesus was answering the question concerning which is the greatest commandment. He replies “The Lord your God is the only God….” Then he points out to his hearers that with every part of our being we should love God – that is in the way we think, feel and in all that we do. We should do everything because we love God. However, to love God alone is not enough. Jesus was keen to point this out:

The second most important commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’

Jesus knew the importance of loving God, but this should not mean that we neglect people. We are called to love others, even when it is difficult to like them!

The Jewish people had often seen God as the God of thunder, earthquakes, and judgement. Jesus wanted to show us that God could be much more than that. He wanted us to know him as a child knows their parents:

I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me. (John 14 v 6)

Jesus said the way to know God as the Father was to know Jesus, and the way to know Jesus is to read the Bible and pray. Jesus urged everyone to pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
On earth as in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
And do not bring us to the time of trail
But rescue us from the evil one.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours forever. Amen (Matthew 6 v9-13)

Jesus assure us that God would hear our prayers:

Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you (Luke 11 v 9)

He knew that all things were possible with God. Of course Jesus said much more – a good place to find out what He said is in Luke’s Gospel. You can find the Bible on line at http://www.ibs.org/niv/index.php

If you love me you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father to send another comforter, who will stay with you for ever (John 14 v15)

We give thanks to God that Jesus did this and His Holy Spirit is with us guiding and supporting us throughout our lives. True to His words

I am with you always, to the end of time (Matthew 28 v 20)

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