Christianity at a glance
Christianity is a worldwide faith of people who follow Jesus Christ. Historically and culturally there are many ways of being Christian and living the Christian life.
Jesus was born about 2000 years ago in the region that is now called Israel and Palestine. He started travelling around the region when he was about 30, and attracted a sizeable following with his teaching and miracles.
It is remarkable that a man who lived 2000 years ago and who travelled no more than a few days from his birthplace should have exerted such an influence on our world and people's way of life.
He took the Old Testament commandments of God, written down by Moses and followed by the Jews then and now, and interpreted them very simply in two basic commandments: love God and love your neighbour as yourself (or love that which God loves).
About three years after he started preaching, he was arrested and executed by the Roman authorities who controlled the region at the time. Christians believe Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament or the Hebrew Scriptures.
They believe that, on the third day, he came back to life and, after spending some time with his followers, went back to join God, his Father.
One of the most important concepts in Christianity is that there is only one God, but there are three elements to this one God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
The Christian holy book is the Bible that consists of the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is the primary source of knowing about Jesus and about the communities which gathered in his name as the early church. To be a Christian involves an unending conversation with the Bible.
The Christian life is about a relationship with God that transforms life in the present, now and forever.
The reason Christians go to church (generally a worship service on a Sunday) is to join together in a nurturing community with other Christians to celebrate God's love in their lives and to encourage each other to grow into Christian maturity and God's love. Nobody pretends that Christians are perfect.
Compassion and justice are the primary ethical fruits of the Christian life.
What happens beyond the Sunday service is important. Every church or faith community exists for the people beyond its walls - a commitment to serving the poor, the lonely, the outcast, the hurting and sick. St John's Care is one way we at St John's put our faith into action.
(Photo: On the roof of the Holy Sepulchre, in Jerusalem's 'Old City' the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has a monastery. It is the site where tradition has it that Jesus was crucified, his body anointed and entombed.)