Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment – the very best thing we can ever do – is to love God with everything that we have. The second is to love everyone else. The Christian faith is about these relationships, beginning with a life-changing, real, and dynamic relationship with God - not a set of empty religious rules. This page explains what is at the heart of Christianity.
Through Jesus and through the pages of the Bible, God has revealed to us his nature and character, that he is holy and that he is love. In being holy God is all good, morally perfect, just, faithful, wrathful, pure, and without any trace of evil. In being love God is generous, compassionate, caring, gracious, merciful and patient. In fact, the Bible tells us that God does not just act lovingly, but that he is love, the very source of love. This holy God of love loves us with an intense, passionate, sacrificial and perfect love. St. John tells us:
And it is because of his love that God’s wants us to know him and have a real and dynamic relationship with him, as St. John tells us again:
We were created in the image and likeness of God and so had dignity, worth, value, purpose, freedom and love. God describes himself as our heavenly father and like any good and loving father of a child who has free will, he asked us to trust him and to love him and to obey him because he knows what is best for us and he so desperately wants the best for us. And like any good and loving father God also warned us what would happen if we did not trust God and obey him, that is, we would die, physically and spiritually, and be separated from him forever, literally hell.
We freely chose to disobey God, to distrust him and to turn our backs on him; we wanted to live our lives apart from God. This rejection of God and his moral will for our lives is what the Bible calls sin. We demonstrate sin through selfish attitudes and behaviour, through openly disobeying God, by ignoring him or by denying his existence. Our sin has caused a great chasm between us, and our relationship with him is broken.
There is a great hole in our lives that nothing else – relationships, money, work or heath – can ever satisfy. Many of us have had that sense that there is something more to this life. That 'something' is God, and he has made a way for our relationship to be healed and restored.
Through Jesus alone we can be forgiven and know and experience the love and forgiveness of God. When we rejected God, he could have judged us and punished us for our sin, yet when we read the Bible we read this staggering truth:
The God of love, compassion, mercy and grace chose to come into our mess as the “God-man” Jesus Christ. St. Paul tells us that Jesus is the 'visible image of the invisible God' - if you want to see God, look at Jesus! Jesus came into human history at a specific time (1st century) in a specific place (Palestine) as a man to identify with us. Jesus experienced everything we experience: hurt, pain, abuse, suffering, rejection, opposition, persecution, loss; he was poor and homeless; he was not loved well nor treated as he should have been; and he was tempted in every way we are tempted. Yet through all of this he did not sin, he never rejected his Father God; instead Jesus trusted the Father completely, he obeyed the Father totally, and he loved the Father perfectly.
Then, in his early thirties, Jesus demonstrated the greatest act of love the world has ever seen and ever will see. Jesus, the only person to have never done anything wrong, who was without sin, voluntarily went to the cross and died in our place for our sins. St. Peter tells us:
Jesus voluntarily substituted himself for us, taking upon himself all of our sins, past, present, and future, and paid the penalty for us, taking the punishment for us. Jesus lay dead in a tomb for three days but then on the third day, a Sunday, he rose from the dead, he was resurrected by the power of God, and in doing so he demonstrated that he had conquered death, evil, sin, suffering and hell. This is why we say that Jesus saves. Jesus said:
Jesus bridges the chasm between us and God, he makes it possible for us to be cleansed from all the sin in our lives. In Jesus anyone and everyone can be forgiven and have this most precious and meaningful relationship with their Father God restored.
To be forgiven, to be restored, to experience the perfect love of God, we must each personally respond to what Jesus has done for us by actively following Jesus and asking him to come into our lives. Choosing to follow Jesus is a whole-life commitment, and one that can be difficult. In fact, Jesus calls us to consider the cost before placing our faith and trust in him. St. Paul tells us:
What St. Paul was saying was that following Christ in this world will bring challenges and difficulties and a certain degree of suffering, just as Jesus himself experienced, but that being in an everlasting, restored relationship with God, knowing his forgiveness, his grace, his mercy, his compassion, and his love, is infinitely worth more than any temporary suffering we experience on this earth.
Furthermore, once we die, we will join Jesus in the presence of our heavenly Father forever in the paradise of what the Bible calls the ‘new creation’, where there is no suffering, no tears, no pain, no evil, and no sin – but instead the majestic and awesome love of the Father to be experienced for all eternity.
If we chose to place our faith and trust in Jesus, if we set our lives to following him and entrust everything that we have and are into the hands of our Father God, then Jesus promises to come into our lives:
If you want to enter into this transformational relationship with God, if you want to be restored as a child of God, then here is a suggested prayer that expresses this desire to God (praying is simply talking to God):
Father God, I want to know you personally. I’m sorry for going my own way instead of your way, I'm sorry for rejecting you and for sinning against you. I know now that you are my heavenly Father who loves me dearly and only wants the best for me.
Thank you for your son Jesus, who died on the cross for me so that my sins can be forgiven. I invite Jesus to come into my life now as my Saviour and my friend, and to make me into the person you want me and created me to be. Amen.
You can be completely assured that Jesus is in your life because God has promised us so and he can be trusted, as St. John writes:
'And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.'
Our relationship with God grows as we trust him and his son Jesus with every detail of our lives. Like with every relationship we have, trust is developed through spending time together and sharing life together.
Personal devotion and connection is at the heart of our relationship with God, and a great place to start is to read one of the gospels in the New Testament with a good commentary. We would recommend starting with the gospel of John with the help of Tom Wright's 'for Everyone' commentary.
Over a billion people from all different backgrounds, communities, nations, ethnicities, and experiences follow Jesus and comprise this sacred family, and so when we meet locally to worship God, pray, hear truths taught from the Bible, encourage one another and share life together, our faith and our love for God grows, as does our love for each other. We become increasingly responsive to the Holy Spirit's leading in our lives and we gradually become more like Jesus, more like the people we were originally created to be - a people of love, grace, compassion, mercy, kindness, honesty, integrity and truth.
If you want to know God personally and have prayed this prayer, then we would love to hear from you, to encourage you, pray for you, love you, welcome you, and support you in any way we can. If you're not quite ready to respond to God, or would like to know more about this relationship with God and would like to speak with one of the pastors at the church, then please also get in touch - we would love to talk with you. You can visit us in person at any service send us an email, or call the church office.