“I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.”
Jesus Christ (as recorded in the Bible, John’s Gospel, chapter 10, verse 10)
Two thousand years ago, in a remote corner of the Roman Empire, something happened that has radically affected our world ever since. Over a third of the planet’s population, or two billion people, call themselves Christians and the Bible remains the world’s best selling and most read book. But why? What do Christian’s believe and what does it matter? To answer these questions it is essential to explore the person of Jesus Christ.
Christians believe that in Jesus, God revealed Himself as a human being, living on earth. His life and teaching have been admired by millions, and have formed the moral basis of much of our culture and society ever since. But Jesus did not see Himself just as a good moral teacher, but spoke of a new kingdom breaking in to history which centred on Him. What was even more unexpected was that having been put to death by crucifixion at a young age His followers were soon proclaiming that He had been raised from the dead, and had appeared to them. His death and resurrection, they said, had in some way given the human race a fresh start enabling people to be reconciled in their relationships with God and each other and to find forgiveness for the ways they had messed up.
The early Christians were just ordinary, fallible people, who became fired by the conviction that God accepted and loved them and wanted to use them in the service of His kingdom. Some were martyred for their beliefs, but then their hope was not confined just to life in this world but to a transformed existence beyond death.
Jesus only lived on earth for just over thirty years, but Christians believe that God has left them with various gifts to grow in their faith and obedience to God’s will. Jesus Himself promised another helper, who He called ‘the Holy Spirit’ to be God’s continuing presence and power with His followers. They also believe that God has left a unique written revelation of His character and purpose in the Bible and can speak to us particularly through its pages. Therefore, both the Holy Spirit and the Bible have a central place in our journey with God. In addition, God never intends us to struggle on our own as Christians, but to be linked up with the church, that fellowship of all those who have responded to His call through time and history and which still is expressed in many visible communities of faith today.
Sometimes the number of different churches and the ways they disagree can put us off wanting to be part of them. It certainly shows that Christians are not people who have it all sorted, know all the answers or live perfect lives. However through the years, time and again Christian influence has been an active source of good in the world, motivated by the love and grace of God that Christians have come to experience. The Diocese of Leicester belongs to that part of the church known as the Church of England, but works actively with many other Christian denominations and churches.
This has only been a very brief summary of what we believe. If you’d like to explore further, you would be welcome at any Anglican church – many of which run short courses to explore and discover more about the Christian faith, such as the Alpha Course. For details of where they are and their service times click here: http://www.achurchnearyou.com/ Alternatively, if you’d prefer to wait before contacting anyone, and you’d rather find out more about Jesus online, why not visit www.christianity.org.uk ?