Christians believe that faith is a gift and our experience shows that we all come to it in unique ways. Sometimes it feels like we have been searching for God, for others it is as if God has searched us out and found us. There is no one way to explore and find faith. A good place to start though is with Jesus Christ. Our Christian faith would not exist without him. We believe if you look at Jesus, a man who lived in Palestine under the Roman Empire, you also see what God looks like – in fact you truly see God. You can’t place even a tissue paper between Jesus and God.
We have histories of the life of Jesus handed down to us in the Gospels, the first four books in the New Testament in the Bible. There we read how Jesus was born, lived and showed us what God is like by his words and actions which always seemed to turn upside-down the status quo and put the last people, first. Jesus’ life and actions led to him being executed by the powers that be of his day, and though he died, we believe God brought him back to life by raising him from death, because God wanted humanity to be part of God’s life forever.
The truth of the resurrection of Jesus changes everything for Christians; from those first Christians who followed Jesus – who told, and lived out, the amazing message of the love of God and life after death to those around them in the Roman world, right up to Christians today. There is now not one life to live but another one to come. There is a God who so desires us, loves us and likes us that he longs to be with us for all eternity. When we discover the gift of faith in God, who has entered our world of struggle and violence and experienced the worst it can do we realise that we don’t belong to ourselves in the same way anymore. We belong to another – and we belong to each other and the world around us in different way. Not only faith but all of life becomes pure gift, to be responded to by giving our lives up to the service of God and others. We find ourselves wanting to please God and turn away from all that is not of God – however hard a daily task that is!
These truths are captured in the ritual of baptism which is how the entry into Christian faith is celebrated. Jesus himself was baptised in a river and God’s Spirit descended on him to fire him up for the work ahead. God, the Father spoke these words over him “You are my own beloved child and I am pleased with you.” This is the experience of every Christian through our baptism – we are ‘the beloved of God’ and we are given the Holy Spirit to live ever freer lives ‘inside God’ and for the good of the world.