....the community's church
Someone once said “following Jesus is your smartest move”. A very great many people in the world have tried, and now agree with that statement. Many have found that following Jesus brings meaning and direction to life, healing to relationships, and fresh hope. Following Jesus does NOT mean someone is perfect or has all the answers. Christians are people on a journey of discovery, learning and maturing as they go. We do not ‘arrive’ until we get to heaven. But what does it mean to follow Jesus? How does one begin? What has it all got to do with church?
Jesus of Nazareth never wrote a book, never held political or religious office, never commanded armies, and yet many would agree that He has been the most influential figure ever to walk upon this planet. The accounts of his life in the Bible are peppered with people who are ‘amazed’ at him. The world is now full of people who find Him their inspiration and look to Him as their hope and their role model. He has more followers in more countries of the world now, than ever before, and the community of his followers worldwide is growing more quickly now than ever. The heart of the Christian faith is Jesus; not church, or morals, or anything else. All of these other things may stem from an encounter with Jesus Christ, but He is the heart and source of it all.
A Christian is not someone who is better than anyone else. A Christian is someone who has decided to follow Jesus Christ. No one is disqualified by not being good enough. Jesus said (and upset many religious people by saying) “I have come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” To those who receive Him, He then gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to enliven and equip the changed life He offers. This means He loves us so much that He accepts us just as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us exactly as we are. As one of Jesus’ disciples, Philip, said to a friend of his, Nathaniel, who was very sceptical, “Come and see”. As a modern writer has suggested, ‘Run an experiment. We all learn how to live from somebody: our parents, our peers, favourite writers, our appetites, our boss, or a vague combination of these. Try learning how to live from Jesus. Come and see. Whatever your ideas about religion might be, you can try being a student of Jesus. And that’s a very good place to start. Try living as if there is a heavenly Father who cares for and listens to you. Try living “without worry” one day at a time. You have to go through tomorrow anyway. Try it with Jesus. Come and see, you may be surprised by what changes lie ahead.