what we believe
christianity is all about relationships
First of all it is about relating to God, which needs some defining. We don't think of God as being some great impersonal force, nor do we define him to being a small spiritual part that is inside everyone. We believe God is a person, amazingly powerful, wonderfully creative and passionately interested in human beings. Because God is "person", it means he has personality and therefore can be known. Christians tend to refer to God as male, but it is a kind of shorthand, we believe that there are sides of God's character, which are feminine too. Practically speaking, we believe that this relationship with God is not only possible, but essential if we are to make the most of life and find out who we really are.
Second, we believe that Christianity is about building deep and meaningful relationships with other people who are on the same journey. This means that the church isn't so much an institution as a community of people all exploring and discovering this primary relationship with God. Some people think that faith is all about rules, it is more about living in a way that builds up this amazing relationship with God, as is true with any relationship that matters.
christianity is for anyone and everyone
Jesus had a habit of hanging around people who were looking for more in life. Healthy people looking for a new opportunity and struggling people who thought life had passed them by. He called on normal people to follow him and came alongside those who had the biggest problems in life to encourage them. People who were sick, liars, cheats, frightened, weary, bereaved, misguided etc. etc. No one was too complicated for Jesus to relate to; in fact his most critical words were against smug religious people who thought they were too good.
However, you won't talk to Christians for long to realise that they are even more interested in Jesus death that they are his life. This may need some explanation. Despite the fact we all think Jesus was a wise teacher, powerful healer and good storyteller, the most powerful thing he did was through his death. We shall come back to this life and death thing later.
God loves people
This can be hard to believe if we've grown up believing that God is a kind of Victorian headmaster who delights in punishing. Some Christian art has reinforced such images. One of the best-known verses in the Bible says this; "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him will not die, but have everlasting life". We are back to the relationship thing. To fully understand this we need to return back to the idea of God who created us and wants us to know him as Father. We believe that people are part of God's grand design, and they have the mark of the maker on them. We believe that we are made to know our maker and that he loves us. You may ask, "how can we know him?"
The key is in his death, not his life. The Bible tells us that Jesus opened up for us a new and living way back to the God through his body. His death was a sacrifice which somehow means that believers can have access to God in prayer, forgiveness for the past and a new beginning in life. His resurrection is assurance that God is with us now. This is great news! Far from being one who loves to punish, God loves to bless.
church can be interesting
Though we love our church building and try to keep it up to date, church isn't really the building. It's people who believe that God is not only real, but is with them. Therefore, in our prayers we talk to God as if he is listening. In our praise, we acknowledge that he is there and in our sermons and reading of the Bible, we expect God to speak and heal and teach and guide etc.
Church therefore is more than just a Sunday service. Christians are involved in all kinds of things as an expression of what they believe. There are a whole lot of midweek events, clubs and special meetings. Also, we believe that faith is about how we work, live as families and members of the community. Sunday services aren't the main thing about church, it is the place where believers and enquirers meet to stoke up for the rest of life. If you would like to check these things out further, you can contact us.
Thanks for reading.
Rev Graham Archer (Vicar of Highfield)