People often wish they could have a fresh start – to begin their lives again with a ‘clean slate’. Christians believe that this is possible.
Christians are followers of Jesus Christ, a Jewish teacher who lived in the Middle East 2,000 years ago and told people he was God in human form. Christians believe that God created humanity to have a personal relationship with him; that he loves us and is intimately interested in the whole of our lives. But they also believe that God is utterly perfect, and humanity’s wrongdoing or sin has created a gap between him and us.
Jesus taught that the only way for people to bridge that gap and enjoy a relationship with God was to turn away from the self-centred direction of their lives and follow him. Christians believe that Jesus offers forgiveness for all the wrong things we think, say and do and that a relationship with him helps us to live a new way in future.
‘Faith says we are loved regardless of our mess, regardless of how many times we fall down, and that Jesus somehow picks me up. I’ll reach out for that – why wouldn’t I?’
A personal relationship
Christians base their beliefs on the Bible and the experience of knowing God personally. The parts of the Bible known as the Gospels give accounts of Jesus Christ’s life, death by crucifixion and resurrection three days later. Christians believe Jesus lived a perfect life and was entirely innocent when he was falsely accused and executed. But by laying down his life, he took humanity’s wrongdoing off our shoulders and onto his. This made it possible for us to be forgiven for all our wrongdoings and begin a new life if we choose to believe in Jesus.
‘Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God.’
(1 Peter 3v18)
Christians believe that this new life is not just for now but goes beyond death. Christianity teaches that although believers die, this won’t be forever: they will escape death’s permanent hold and will spend the rest of their existence in heaven with God. They also believe that Jesus will return to us and that everyone will be aware of what’s known as the Second Coming.
‘When you have a belief in God, it gives you hope which is incredibly powerful, particularly knowing that it (death) is not the end for any of us who have a faith.’
Teaching for everyday life
The teachings of Jesus Christ cover a wide range of everyday human experience including love, forgiveness, relationships, justice and how to handle money. Christians try to put Jesus’ teaching into practice in their own lives. They believe that God helps them to do this through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They can also develop a closer relationship with God by praying, reading the Bible and expressing their love for him by worshipping him and through serving others.
‘Faith isn’t a blind leap... it’s a reasonable step based on good evidence.’