Life poses many questions: What is life all about? How can I be satisfied? Is there a God, and if so, who is He? How is God relevant today?
As Christians, we look to Jesus Christ for the answers to our big questions.
The Challenge of Jesus
Today in Britain we live in a climate in which spiritual things are far more acceptable. And there are so many things to choose from to meet human spiritual needs. The array of religions, belief systems and so on is vast.
At the same time there is a spirit of people choosing what seems best for them personally. So if you want to be a Buddhist – well, that’s fine. If you’re into crystals – that’s fine for you as well. So there has developed a real ‘pick-and-mix’, personalised spirituality that has become acceptable in many circles. All of them are seen to have more or less equal worth and value. Some people see them as different means to the same ends.
But are all religions and belief systems of equal value? And can we say that they have the same end? Obviously not! Much of what each have to say are mutually exclusive when compared to one another.
Christians claim that Jesus (called the Christ) is unique. Jesus said of himself: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (From John’s Gospel, chapter 14, verse 6) In saying this (using ‘I AM’ – the Jewish name for God) he was claiming a number of things:
• Equality with God his Father
• That he was the unique and only way for people to gain access to the presence of God
Following these and other words of Jesus, Christians say that it is only through Jesus that anyone can ever know the reality of the God who is behind all that exists. This claim puts Christianity at odds with other world faiths. The claim also undermines the potential for other belief systems to meet the real spiritual needs of human beings.
People do not need to accept what Christians claim about Jesus. But they can’t at the same time say Jesus was a ‘good man’. How can anyone be good if they make this sort of claim which they know to be untrue?
If we seriously read the accounts of the life of Jesus his simplicity, compassion and directness challenge us. At the same time we cannot avoid being challenged about who he is and what might be the implications for us – even 2000 years later!
Is Life a Struggle?
The world in which we live so often feels pressured. Work (or lack of it!), family, expectations and so on can all add up to a sense of finding things difficult to deal with. Some people just find it difficult to get by day by day.
These pressures can really make one feel: “What’s the point?” For some people there seems so little space for ‘me and my needs’; that no one cares about how they feel.
It has been interesting of late to see the results of a few surveys in Britain. One thing that was picked up was that churchgoers are ‘happier’ people. Another came to the conclusion that on average they lived longer! Now I wonder what’s behind these results?
There are some key things about the Christian message that may contribute to these results. Here are just a few:
• God is love and has shown his love and commitment when Jesus came to this world. This fact assures people that they are loved personally by the God who is behind all that we see.
• Through trusting in Jesus, God’s Son, for the forgiveness of their sins, Christians have found peace with God, the world and themselves. This gives real contentment in life.
• Christians have discovered that God is concerned about their daily lives. This includes an awareness that life is not meaningless but has purpose and direction.
These truths and others that Christians have grasped don’t mean life is always easy and straightforward for Christians. Life isn’t always blessed and happy. At the same time though Christian experience is that whatever their circumstances, that God is there for them. He helps get them through all that life throws at them. And of course Christians are also aware that there is more than just this life. There is the promise of a life beyond death in which there is ‘no more death or mourning or crying or pain’ (Revelation Chapter 21 verse 4).
So, why not reach out to God. What is there to lose? There is much that could be gained!