Jesus Christ has had the most outstanding impact on the world. His message
has dramatically changed lives and cultures during the last 2000 years, and
today those who follow Jesus are counted in their hundreds of millions.
Jesus originated from an obscure part of the Roman Empire (as it was then),
and during his three year ministry, operated within a small area without the
assistance of any kind of technology. Yet his message has survived the test of
time, and has spread to all parts of the globe.
Who was this Jesus?
He was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth and was murdered in Jerusalem. He was different because he told religious leaders they were wrong. He kept company with the despised like lepers and tax collectors. He raised the dead. He treated women with respect, and indeed one of his best friends had been a prostitute. During his last years he slept rough and became a wanted man. He was tortured to death for speaking out the truth, yet even then he prayed that God would forgive his killers.
What was his message?
The right moment had come in Jesus' life to fulfil his mission and he arrived on the scene in Galilee proclaiming:
“Time's up! God's kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message” (Mark 1.15, Bible)
Let’s think about these words of Jesus…
The Old Testament part of the Bible frequently points to a time when God's man, a Rescuer, would enter human history, with the purpose of rescuing people from a serious dilemma. Here's the dilemma: the human race has abandoned their Creator, and therefore relationships are ruined, especially our relationship with God. Let's be honest, can anyone claim to have kept the two greatest commandments, loving God and our neighbour, with our whole being, all of the time?
‘God's kingdom is here.’
God is holy, and we deserve his judgement upon our disobedience. Yet, God continues to LOVE us. That is why God sent his Son Jesus Christ and by his words and actions, Jesus lived out God’s kingdom. He declared I am the door (John 10.7, Bible). So Jesus invites you and me to step back into God's kingdom. That's amazing! We have the opportunity, through Jesus, to have a new start, a new life and have it abundantly (John 10.10, Bible).
‘Change your life.’
A new start for our lives does not happen automatically. Jesus calls everyone, everywhere to turn away from our selfish ways. We must ADMIT to God that we have broken his commandments. This requires honesty and courage.
‘Believe the Message.’
Jesus calls us to turn to him, to actually BELIEVE in him. He is the Message. That's what is required, not Baptism, or Holy Communion or Church membership or anything else. Yes, these activities are vital, but are expressions of our belief and trust in the Message. Jesus calls us to change and believe.
Once we have admitted and believed, God FORGIVES - completely and totally - our sin. This is only possible because Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.3-4, Bible). Being a Christian is about a relationship - a relationship with the one, living and true God. It is important we tell others about this Good News, that we not only ‘Admit’, and ‘Believe’, but we ‘Confess’ our belief to others.
Christianity has left a significant mark for good on so much of British culture. For over a thousand years, Christianity has shaped our laws. It was the Church that introduced and pioneered the development of education in our nation. For hundreds of years, it was Christians who provided virtually the only care for the sick and dying. It was Christian men and women who led important advances in science and campaigned for the reform of working conditions and for slavery to be abolished. The Bible has had a powerful impact upon the English language and culture, which no other book can compare with. This dates back to the Authorised Version of the Bible that was first published in 1611.
To summarise, I have presented in this article a brief outline of who Jesus is and why he came. I have also sketched the impact of Christianity upon British culture, which I think is important to recognise. Christianity makes the difference to the well-being of personal lives and society.
Article written by Rev. Mark Reasbeck