Each one of us is different
We are all at different stages in our lives. Some of us feel really secure in what we have – surrounded by everything we could want or need. Others of us are struggling with a variety of issues, some of which just seem too much to deal with. Many of us are somewhere in the middle, with some things that are good, and some concerns. But happiness and contentment in our lives doesn’t necessarily follow any one of these stages. We can have everything we could want and feel deeply unhappy. We can have nothing, and yet feel incredibly fulfilled. So why should we consider the difference that the Christian faith can make in our lives? Can’t we now sort most of these things out for ourselves? Do we really need there to be a God who loves and cares for us, and is interested in our lives? Maybe you are wondering about these things, maybe you haven’t really thought about them, but if either is the case, maybe it’s worth reading on to see if there might just be something that speaks to you? (If you’re not a person of words, but someone who finds images more helpful, then maybe have a look at the Finding out more about the Christian faith section under Useful Links.)
What does it mean to be a Christian?
Being a Christian has nothing to do with where we were born or where we live. There are few who would even suggest that England is a Christian country any more. We just need to look around us to see that the standards that many people live by in our society today are not often those that we should be living by as Christians.
Being a Christian is about how we respond to the message of the gospel (what the Bible tells us about Jesus, who he is, and what he has done for us). The Bible sets out right from the beginning to tell us that God made us, and he loves us. We were made to know God, but we have turned away from him and from his love. But God didn’t turn his back on us, and so he sent Jesus, his Son, to draw the world back to him. Jesus lived a life without sin, and yet he died on the cross as a common criminal. But God raised him from the dead, raising him to new life. Through Jesus, God offers us forgiveness of our sins, a new relationship with God and with God’s people, the gift of eternal life, and a call to service and discipleship. Jesus gives us the perfect example of how to live as people of God, and he left us the Holy Spirit to help us to live as people of God.
Is that really true, and what do I do if I think I might believe it?
This wasn’t just a story told in the Bible. It is the very heart of what being a Christian is all about. God invites us to accept and respond to his most gracious gift. We can either choose to believe that what the Bible says is true, that God really did send Jesus to restore our relationship with God and to forgive us of our sins, or we can reject it as a just another fable. We need to respond to the message one way or the other. If we decide that we believe that it is true, then there is a response that we need to make.
Firstly, we need to repent of the things that we have done that are wrong. The Gospel offers hope to lost people, but unless we respond to that offer, if we continue as we are, we will still be lost. Repent means to change our mind and change direction — a 180-degree turn around. Instead of going with the flow of this world we will be going against the flow. Instead of ignoring God and serving ourselves we will be loving and serving God.
Secondly, we are called to respond with faith – to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for us on the cross, and to thank him for all that he has done for us. “Faith” sums up the relationship between us and our Father.
Thirdly, we are called to respond by becoming members of the church – the body of Christ, of which we are all part, and with whom together we share God’s love with the community and world around us.
Finally, we are invited to respond by receiving the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, to help us and to challenge us as and when he needs to, and to show us all that God has in store for us.
Being a Christian disciple is like being on a journey. We travel it together with other Christians. Sometimes it is an easy journey, and sometimes it’s incredibly difficult. Sometimes we get lost, and sometimes we know exactly where God is leading us. But it can be really exciting looking for the signposts that guide us along the journey – the people who have shared faith with us; the moments in our lives where we have responded to God through baptism, and confirmation, and even ordination; where the Holy Spirit has prompted us to do something, or speak to someone; or where we have seen answers to our prayers. For some, the process of become a Christian is very quick, and for others it takes much longer, but for all of us the process doesn’t come to an end – being a Christian is something that we will continue to grow into through the rest of our lives, and into the eternal life that God promises us.
How can I find out more?
There is one thing that money can’t buy. The hope, peace and security that comes from knowing that we are loved, valued, and forgiven by God. To know that we can start again, that we will never again be alone, and to know that God wants the very best for us. Whatever we have, whatever we don’t, the Christian faith offers the fulfilment that so many people are looking for. Maybe it does for you too? If you would like to talk about any of this further, please contact us. You may be interested in coming along to a short course called Faith Matters, which helps us to understand a bit more about the Christian faith, and why it really matters to us today.