To be a Christian means to follow Christ or to be a disciple. And to be a disciple means to study and learn from Jesus and about Jesus.
Billions of people - about a third of the world's population - call ourselves Christian. But what do we actually know about Jesus and are we really willing to learn more about him?
Sadly, I often find that Muslims know more about Jesus (who is recognised and respected as a prophet in the Qu'ran) than many Christians do.
For me, to learn about Christ is to have the best possible insight into the creator, redeemer and sustainer of all that is.
But, even if you're not quite with me on that - there are many reasons to find out more about Jesus:
- The ethical code introduced by Jesus is the basis on which much of the world's culture is founded.
- Our legal and political systems in the West are also based on and have developed from the teachings of Jesus.
- References and allusions to Jesus permeate art, music, philosophy and literature in Western culture.
- Many every day phrases like 'a prodigal son', 'turning the other cheek', 'not casting stones' and 'being a Good Samartitan' come from stories that Jesus told or words he said.
- Jesus' teachings have proved to be durable over two thousand years and have provided a basis on which people can live rich, fulfilled and generous lives.
- Millions of people from every culture, race and background claim that turning to Jesus has transformed their lives. (And I'm one of them!)
So, whatever background we come from and whatever we believe or don't believe, Jesus deserves our attention.
You might think, as I do, that Jesus was both human and divine, that he rose from the dead and is alive today. You might think Jesus was simply a wonderfully wise and courageous Jewish teacher. You might think of Jesus as a mystical figure, who was a great master of spiritual practice.
Whatever our existing understanding of Jesus, we can all challenge and supplement this by finding out more.
May I encourage you to find out more about Jesus - to read the Gospel accounts of Jesus, to read books and articles about Jesus (by both sceptics and believers), to listen to sermons or podcasts, to watch films, to be on the look out for references to Jesus throughout our culture.
And then to start to piece together a fuller, richer picture of this person - who certainly lived 2000 years ago and who, many believe, is still alive today.
Let's get going on our pilgrimage together by taking a long, hard look at the person of Jesus.
Do feel free to share what you currently think about Jesus on our closed Facebook group and to suggest to one another how you have found out more about him and the things that have challenged or supported your initial beliefs.
Posted by Martine Oborne