August 26, 2017

Intro to Christianity

I know very little about Christianity, where do I start?

When Christianity started it wasn’t yet known as Christianity, but was simply called “The Way” by followers of Jesus. What gets a lot of us started along The Way is questions that seem to well up from inside us involuntarily:

If God exists, why would he care about us? Why on earth do we exist? How could we possibly relate to or understand our Creator? Is God safe? Does he have plans for us? Do we dare hope for something really, really good from our Maker, or should we brace ourselves for disappointment or fear, or simply nothing at all? Can we trust God with our deepest longings? Can God possibly think I’m special? Why do we have so much pain and struggle in this life?

And the questions go on.

Christians have claimed from the very beginning that these questions are all met and answered compassionately by God in Jesus. We believe Jesus is God’s revelation of himself to us, his “Word” to us, the fullness of God living completely as a human among us, the only one who does have more than a clue about the deepest questions of reality, and who is in control, and who is The Way.

So a good place to start is to get to know who Jesus is by reading any or all of the four gospels about him found in the New Testament in the Bible (“gospel” means good news).

Maybe start with the Gospel of John. Discover who Jesus is by watching how he treats people, what he says, how he is grounded in his intimate relationship with his heavenly Father, and what he reveals about who he is, the love of God, and what he has done for us.

As Jesus said to one of his followers, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” As we begin to know Jesus, we also begin to know our Father and Creator.

Another great way to start exploring who Jesus is and what Christianity is about is to talk to a Christian. Do you know a Christian whom you respect and who seems to genuinely love God? Many Christians love to share about this, but they might hesitate to bring it up unless you ask. Our pastor, Grant Hill, is available during the week by email or phone, and he loves to chat. Feel free to get in touch with him.

If you want to keep reading, you might consider reading the apostle Paul’s letter to the new Christians in the ancient city of Colossae (a.k.a. the short book of Colossians in the Bible). He tends to write quite dense sentences, so sometimes you need to read slowly to get what he’s talking about, but this letter is a great short summary of the hope and joy of what we believe.

Or read the book of Acts (short for “The Acts of the Apostles” or “The Acts of the Holy Spirit”), which details the activity of God working in and through the lives of Jesus’ first followers.

Or, for some very ancient context, you might read the book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament in the Bible, which shapes our view of all of human history. God’s love for his people and his Creation, our essential goodness and worth as God’s creation and bearers of the image of God, our fallenness through sin, and the birth of the ancient nation of Israel, through whom Jesus Christ would eventually come to redeem the world, are all revealed in Genesis.

Reading and thinking deeply about the Bible always brings up more questions, and one of the things that was important to Jesus during his earthly ministry among us is that we don’t go it alone. He wants to bring us into community with those who love him. He uses our relationships with each other to transform us as we learn to trust in him together and to serve each other and alongside each other on his behalf.

We believe Jesus is Lord of all, and he has a purpose which he invites everyone who loves him to participate in. Jesus’ great joy is to reconcile the world to his Father, and ours is to follow him and to witness his work in our lives and the lives of those who are drawn to him. Do you know any Christians? Reach out to them and join them along The Way.