A Short Introduction
You may know that Christianity is the world’s largest and most wide-spread religion. You may also know that there are thousands of religious groups around the world claiming to be Christian. The different ways in which the people in these groups celebrate, teach, and organize their communities may seem so confusing that the person they all claim to follow becomes obscure.
The truth is, however, that the differences among Christians—while real—are not as great as it might appear. For the most part, these differences arise from the various cultures of those who follow Jesus and to the time of history in which the groups they represent came into existence. Christianity has never insisted on cultural uniformity, nor on a single language for worship. In fact, it has actively encouraged the translation of its texts into any and all languages of the world, and it accepts all of these translations as equally representative of the Word of God.
In a sense then, Jesus looks somewhat different to everyone who follows him. He is an African, American, Arab, and Jew.
Underneath all this difference, however, is a single historical person who lived, died, and—Christians believe—rose again. All this occurred over two-thousand years ago.
Jesus was Jewish. That means that Christianity resounds with some of the same beliefs as Judaism. Jesus said that he did not wish to abolish or to disrespect Judaism in any way. He accepted the Jewish Scriptures that had come before him and been gathered by the people of Israel. That is why Christian Bible begins with the same text that Jews revere as God’s Word.
The next part of the Bible, the New Testament, begins with the birth of Jesus. It happened in the area of the world that the Romans called “Palestine.” That was of course, the same place that Jews had always called “Israel.” Jesus was the son of Mary—and this was a miracle, because she was a young Jewish woman who had never had any sexual relationships with any man. An angel told her that she wold conceive and that her child would be the long-awaited Messiah.
After this “annunciation” (announcement), Mary wed a man named Joseph. The two fo them raised Jesus together. At age 30, Jesus finally left his family trade as a carpenter, and he began to teach a group of young men. Today, we call this group the disciples. After Jesus’s death, the same men would become the apostles, the fathers of the Christian faith.
Due to his growing teaching ministry, and some of the radical messages Jesus proclaimed about the coming “Kingdom of God,” the Jewish and Roman authorities became agitated, and they feared a political upheaval. In or about the year 33 A.D., the Roman authorities executed Jesus. But three days after his death, Jesus appeared to the disciples…and told them to take his teaching to every corner of the world. These same men soon experienced a visitation from the Holy Spirit, after which they began to spread the good news that Jesus had taught them. That is this: that because Jesus died and rose for us, all men and women may also live forever. At some point in history determined by God, those who receive the radical forgiveness that Jesus offers, too, will rise from the dead and live.
Today, we know Jesus through His church. We gather in the church to experience the Lord’s presence. We learn there that Jesus died to bring us new life. By believing that he died and rose again, we receive the ability to leave our old lives behind and to become new people. The same Holy Spirit that the apostles experienced comes into our own lives. Through meeting together, praying, and studying God’s words, our minds and hearts are opened to know how to understand and follow the teachings of Jesus in our everyday lives.
The most important thing to know about Jesus is that he loves you, and that through Him you can know the love and forgiveness and security of God. This can occur any time you are ready. All you have to do is ask, wherever you are, for Jesus to meet you. Ask Him to forgive you of the wrong ways you have thought and lived—and ask Him to receive you into his family. The next step is to find a community where you can follow Jesus in the day-to-day journey of becoming his disciple.
If you are looking for such a place, we welcome you to find it here, at Christ Church Nashville.