“What Christians believe” is a subject that has exercised the minds of history’s greatest philosophers and theologians. To attempt to sum up their thoughts in as brief a space as this would be meaningless.
Nevertheless, at the heart of Christian belief is a wonderfully simple message:
- About a God who created a world full of people he loved
- About a God who loved these people so much that he didn’t force them to love him back
- About a God who didn’t stand idly by when the people turned against him, but sent his son, Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ), into the world to try to win the people back to him.
Here is an example of what Yeshua (Jesus) taught:
There was a man who had two sons. The younger son spoke to his father. He said, “Father, give me my share of the family property.” So the father divided his property between his two sons.
Not long after that, the younger son packed up all he had. Then he left for a country far away. There he wasted his money on wild living. He spent everything he had.
Then a time of famine came and the son didn’t have what he needed. He went to work for someone who lived in that country, who sent him to the fields to feed the pigs. The son wanted to fill his stomach with the food the pigs were eating.
Then he began to think clearly again. He said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food! But here I am dying from hunger. I will get up and go back to my father. I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven. And I have sinned against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.” So he got up and went to his father.
While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him. He was filled with tender love for his son. He ran to him. He threw his arms around him and kissed him.
The son said to him, “Father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.”
But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattest calf and kill it. Let’s have a big dinner and celebrate. This son of mine was dead. And now he is alive again. He was lost and now he is found.
So they began to celebrate;
There are four simple messages that we can learn from this story that tell us something of the heart of Christian belief.
Just as the son in the story that Yeshua (Jesus) told rebelled against his father and blew his inheritance on wild living, so as people we have rebelled against God. We have all done wrong. In differing, but equally effective ways, we have all squandered the inheritance that God has given us.
Just as the son ended up living with the consequences of his folly, so we also share the consequences of the things we have done.
Just as the son restored his relationship with his father by saying sorry to him and returning to his household, so we can do likewise – by saying sorry to God for the things we have done, and returning to his household, the church.
Just as the father was ready to welcome his son back with great joy (rather than with a big stick, which is probably what most of us would have done in a similar position), so God is eagerly awaiting our return. He longs for us to return to him, and he has so many wonders in store for us when we do return to him.
There then is the heart of the Christian message. But outside of this heart is a living body of belief that completes the story.
If you would like to know more, please talk to a member of the congregation or to the vicar.