Christians believe that God is the creator and sustainer of everything that exists. God’s character is best described as ‘love’, and God’s passions are for peace, justice and joy for everyone and for the whole world order.
God is always ‘more’ – more in scale, in love, in energy, in presence – more than we ever imagine. Language breaks down; our descriptions have to become metaphors. It’s like Hamlet trying to describe Shakespeare. But in order to explain what God is like, God took a huge risk…
Christians follow Jesus Christ. It’s been said ‘God is Christlike, and in him is no unChristlikeness at all.’ If we want to understand what God is like, what God would say and do, we have only to look at this extraordinary life, a life that has been the pivot on which history has turned.
• The breath-taking teaching of Jesus has never been faulted and has been the foundation of civilisations.
• The death of Jesus on Good Friday released humankind from the dark tyrannies of moral failure and the fears that cripple our lives.
• The resurrection of Jesus on Easter Day showed us that nothing is irredeemable, that death does not have the final word, and that a pattern of death-and-resurrection is part of human experience and personal maturity.
If we can know God as Father in creation and as Son in history, how can we know God as the One who is present in our lives today (‘going between’ God’s life and ours)? The answer is – we can know him in the Spirit of God, released by Jesus so that he could always bless and empower us.
The Spirit was released at Pentecost so that the love and grace of Jesus Christ could flow through his people into the world to make a difference at every level. Human transformation and social transformation are equally part of the new creation, the Kingdom of God, which Jesus came to announce and to demonstrate.
Christians think that believing certain things about God has implications for how they behave towards others and the world they live in. They call it ‘daily discipleship,’ or trying to follow the way of Jesus 24/7. It means asking certain questions in the midst of the rough and tumble of ordinary living: Where is God at work in this situation? What’s the Christ-like thing to do here? What’s the Holy Spirit nudging me to do?
Christianity is also about belonging. Christians belong both to Christ (Christ-ians) and to one another. Together they make up the vast human family called the Church, and which St Paul called ‘the Body of Christ’. The task of the Church is to continue the work Jesus began. To do that, Christ feeds his people – his Body – through the Bible, prayer, and the sacraments.
Christians believe that the Bible is God’s love story – the story of God’s continuous pursuit of his wayward people, who never quite ‘get it.’ God has always longed to give people an abundant experience of life, and the Bible tells that story in many different ways – law, history, wisdom, poetry, prophecy, gospel, letters, apocalyptic – written by many authors over a period of more than 1000 years. This is God’s word for us and our word about God. It’s not ‘dictated’ but inspired (‘God-breathed’). As such it’s the book above any other in history that has guided, moved, shaped and empowered both individuals and nations. Christians fail to read it at their peril!
Taken from CHRISTIANITY: A Simple Guide © Diocese of Oxford (available from DCH 01865 208225).
See also our other Simple Guides:
PRAYER: A Simple Guide
PILGRIMAGE: A Simple Guide
GIVING: A Simple Guide
MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD: A Simple Guide