Thursday, May 11, 2023

If I Wrote a Tract

Christians believe in Jesus.
We believe he died by crucifixion but 3 days later, came to life, not because he wasn’t properly dead, but because he was able to break out of death. We actually believe he defeated death, like a superhero destroying an incredible monster. But his power was not like a superhero. It was the power of a perfect life, with impeccable moral purity, utter innocence, true holiness, resisting all the temptations of the devil, as well as humble submission and obedience to God our Father.
Christians believe Jesus is alive right now as a resurrected man, in heaven, and that soon he will return, the true king of all creation. We believe he is God. God’s son, but also fully and truly man.
He has the power and authority to judge the moral failures of every person in all of history, and forgive the sins of those who love him, and sentence those who don’t.
But Christians aren’t motivated by fear.
We believe that God is love. And that it was because of his great love, that God, the father, sent his one and only son Jesus, to be one of us, at the very first Christmas.
To forgive even the smallest sin, he had to legally pay the price of every sin, and that price is death. Yes death is a terrible punishment, but the death penalty is exactly what Jesus suffered in order to meet the strict legal requirements of forgiveness. If you ever forgive anyone, if you think carefully about it, you are paying the cost of whatever that person did against you. That is true forgiveness, it’s more than words, it’s action, loving action.
So Christians believe Jesus died on a cross, paid the price for our sins, rose from the dead, rose physically to heaven, and will soon return.
But we also believe that he is present with us, spiritually, through God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit.
We believe that it is God’s Spirit that stirs our hearts and makes us care about our honesty and purity (or lack-of) and failure to live up to Godly standards, even simple things like keeping our word.
These things start to keep us up at night, and we may even long to be free of these painful thoughts and memories.
When this is happening, Christians believe this is God working in our lives, urging us to come clean, spill the beans, admit that we can’t do it alone, that we need His love and forgiveness. That is when we see the true beauty and preciousness of the cross of Jesus. The bible says that he became our sin, that he carried our sorrows, and that his wounds heal us. (And that is just scratching the surface)
How do we then cross that line into God’s family of forgiven and relieved children? People who believe deeply that their sins are forgiven? People who sing for joy the words of amazing grace?
It’s really simple.
Believe, confess, repent.
Believe that Jesus is the King, resurrected and alive in heaven.
Confess that we need him for our forgiveness.
Repent, which basically means change direction, stop following our own ideas and follow Jesus instead. His teaching is clear, in the bible, on how we should live our lives (especially the New Testament).
That’s one of the reasons Christians meet together at church on sundays. To hear more about what Jesus taught us, to sing for joy, and to meet with God. He promises to be with us always but especially when we meet together.
You can follow moral laws for living without Jesus. But if you are strict about it, you will fail (for example Jesus taught that if you even think about committing adultery, it’s basically the same as committing adultery).
So if we need our conscience to be properly clean, no amount of self sacrifice or self torture or self isolation or anything else we try to do will achieve this. Only Jesus, on the cross, dying for our sin, can, and does do this, once and for all.
That’s what Christians believe, and sing about. It is life changing, and we want you to join us and Jesus.
You could just turn up at your closest corner church, and see if God speaks to you there. Hopefully he will. I also recommend reading the Bible, (Christians believe the bible is fully inspired by God, and fully reliable when understood properly- but it can also be misused so care is needed) I especially recommend the New Testament, and maybe start with the Gospel of John. The Old Testament is very relevant but is not as obviously about Jesus, as the New Testament, though Jesus himself tells us that the whole of the Old Testament is about him and is actually fulfilled by him.
And if there is one word worth dwelling on and trying to really understand deeply, that word in my opinion is “grace”.
It’s a Christian word that summarizes the generosity of God’s forgiveness. If you visit a Christian gathering, ( that is what the word "church" means) the people there should take that word pretty seriously to be useful as God’s representatives, in my opinion.
By the way, life as a Christian is not all roses. It includes ongoing struggles, failures, disappointments, grief, temptations, times of self questioning and doubt. But we are never alone, and God has surprising ways of lifting us in times of trouble, and keeping us in his family, it’s part of his commitment to us, Jesus is clear about that. And we re-experience the truth of his forgiveness, time after time. That is my experience. Christians really believe God loves us this much. The bible testifies to this many times.

Lastly I want to mention prayer. Christians pray to God, and usually finish with "in Jesus name", because Jesus tells us to do everything in his name. God hears our prayers, and Jesus hears our prayers, and the Holy Spirit helps us pray as children of God. We believe God answers prayer. The way he answers is as a loving Father caring for the whole of his creation, with a clear plan for every part of it, including you and me, so sometimes the answers are surprising, and sometimes it feels like we hear silence. Most of us have prayed to God at some point in our lives. I believe he hears every prayer. Christians believe he wants us to pray continually, for each other, for ourselves, in thanksgiving, and also in our lowest times. It is hard to be a Christian and not pray.
I hope this little summary is helpful to you and your search for true meaning in this life and the next, so what are you waiting for? Ask God right now to lead you to the person who will help you become a christian.