What We Believe
Christians believe that God is the creator and sustainer of everything that exists. God’s character is best described as ‘love’, and God’s passions are for peace, justice and joy for everyone and for the whole world order.
God is always ‘more’ – more in scale, in love, in energy, in presence – more than we ever imagine. Language breaks down; our descriptions have to become metaphors. It’s like Hamlet trying to describe Shakespeare. But in order to explain what God is like, God took a huge risk…
Christians follow Jesus Christ. It’s been said ‘God is Christlike, and in him is no unChristlikeness at all.’ If we want to understand what God is like, what God would say and do, we have only to look at this extraordinary life, a life that has been the pivot on which history has turned.
• The breath-taking teaching of Jesus has never been faulted and has been the foundation of civilisations.
• The death of Jesus on Good Friday released humankind from the dark tyrannies of moral failure and the fears that cripple our lives.
• The resurrection of Jesus on Easter Day showed us that nothing is irredeemable, that death does not have the final word, and that a pattern of death-and-resurrection is part of human experience and personal maturity.
If we can know God as Father in creation and as Son in history, how can we know God as the One who is present in our lives today (‘going between’ God’s life and ours)? The answer is – we can know him in the Spirit of God, released by Jesus so that he could always bless and empower us.
The Spirit was released at Pentecost so that the love and grace of Jesus Christ could flow through his people into the world to make a difference at every level. Human transformation and social transformation are equally part of the new creation, the Kingdom of God, which Jesus came to announce and to demonstrate.
Christians think that believing certain things about God has implications for how they behave towards others and the world they live in. They call it ‘daily discipleship,’ or trying to follow the way of Jesus 24/7. It means asking certain questions in the midst of the rough and tumble of ordinary living: Where is God at work in this situation? What’s the Christ-like thing to do here? What’s the Holy Spirit nudging me to do?
Christianity is also about belonging. Christians belong both to Christ (Christ-ians) and to one another. Together they make up the vast human family called the Church, and which St Paul called ‘the Body of Christ’. The task of the Church is to continue the work Jesus began. To do that, Christ feeds his people – his Body – through the Bible, prayer, and the sacraments.
Christians believe that the Bible is God’s love story – the story of God’s continuous pursuit of his wayward people, who never quite ‘get it.’ God has always longed to give people an abundant experience of life, and the Bible tells that story in many different ways – law, history, wisdom, poetry, prophecy, gospel, letters, apocalyptic – written by many authors over a period of more than 1000 years. This is God’s word for us and our word about God. It’s not ‘dictated’ but inspired (‘God-breathed’). As such it’s the book above any other in history that has guided, moved, shaped and empowered both individuals and nations. Christians fail to read it at their peril!
, why should I believe in God?
If you were to put that question to any of the folk at Immanuel, you’d probably get the answer “well, I just do”. And that’s simply because God has become so much part of our lives,that we no longer need to ask “why”, he’s just there with us all the time.
If you pressed us further, most of us would say something like “well, everything makes so much more sense with God in the middle, and without him, everything would seem purposeless, aimless, less colourful, and less full of life”.
There are lots of thoughtful intellectual comments about God, but like all relationships, you understand more about Him when you start to get to know him.
But why do so many bad things happen in the world?
Even Christians with a deep and rich faith sometimes have problems with than question.
Those of us who are parents will understand about children who have “gone off the rails”. We can’t control their lives, we can only love and encourage them to come back into a way of life which is positive and not self destructive.
And God feels the same about us. He didn’t create us as puppets to dance at his command. He created us as his children and gave us this world to enjoy and look after, in the same way that He would.
Sadly, some people choose to live lives that are the opposite of God’s standards. God challenges us to reshape our lives and this world in His image.
Why would I need to change my life if I got to know God?
Every relationship changes us; whether it’s marriage or family or friends, our lives are influenced (for good or ill) by the people we know and their views and opinions.
The more you get to know God, the more you change, because you realise the difference between his standards and the life you’ve been living. And that’s a process that never stops, throughout your life.
God doesn’t lay down rules about going to church or reading your bible, or prayer, but the more you get to know God, the more you start to realise these are all important to living your life the way He wants you to live.
Prayer is at the heart of our Christian lives. It has to be a priority if we are to deepen our enjoyment of God and to recognise God’s presence in everyday life. But it can be daunting at first.
Remember: Prayer isn’t a technique; it’s a relationship. It’s not about trying to persuade a reluctant God to do something, or to craft a perfect set of words to win God over. It’s a friendship, with many different dimensions.
It starts in the most ordinary, instinctive reactions to everyday life. For example, gratitude for the good things that are always happening to us, however small; wonder – we often see amazing things, in nature for example, but pass them by; or need – we bump into scores of needs every day.
Prayer is taking those instincts of gratitude, wonder and the desire to help, and stretching them out before God. Everyone has those instincts, so prayer is making our responses intentional and focusing them towards God. We therefore need to give prayer that most scarce commodity – time. The rule here is to start small; stay natural; and be honest.
Prayer can take many different forms:
- Spending time reflectively with God
- Thanksgiving, confession, petition (TCP)
- Being with God – with thanks, with sorrow, with people on our heart.
- Chatting (arrow prayers) – talking (a quiet time) – intimacy (silence)
- Offering the day to God at the start – practising the presence of God through the day – reviewing the day with God at night.
- Meditation – chewing the word of God slowly and prayerfully
- Contemplation – silently looking, listening and just being.