The heart of the Christian faith is Jesus; not church, or morals, or anything else. All of these other things may follow, but He is the heart and source of it all.
"A Christian is someone whose life is lived in relationship with God through Jesus Christ" (Rowan Williams). We try to follow the way that Jesus taught.
Central to this is knowing we can trust God. Paul says at the end of the eighth chapter of his letter to the church in Rome, "if God is for us, who can be against us?". This is at the heart of faith.
How do we know "God is for us?" Because Jesus Christ, the one human being who is completely in tune with God, has carried the burden of the human betrayals of God and running away from goodness. One way of looking at this is that, through Jesus Christ, God has come to repair our broken relationship with him.
Jesus let himself be betrayed and rejected, executed in a humiliating and agonising way. 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. He came not to restrict our lives with rules and regulations but as he said that "we may have life and have it to the full".
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.” 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.
He gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to enliven and equip the changed life He offers. To help us live more "in tune" with God.
If we have really taken the message in we will live more generous, selfless lives. We will ask how the gifts that have been given to us can be shared to make other people more fully alive. And we will be more ready to accept the generosity of others.
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.
Do you know what Jesus said about anything? Try living accordingly. 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.’ (From ‘Who Is This Man’ by John Ortberg).
This is a short space and if you are interested there are many more questions. Come to one of our events and ask us more, or drop into St Mary's or one of the other Guildford town centre churches. If you just want to stand in a holy place and reflect then that's fine.
You may also find that christianity.org.uk is helpful and interesting.
(You can find a short article about Christianity by Rowan Williams on the Church of England website and also on the Diocese of Guildford website which was used to source references for this article. )