Were you ever given a nickname when you were younger? Sometimes that name summarised how people thought of you. Hopefully, it was positive, but sometimes those nicknames were used to ridicule.
The word ‘Christian’, for example, was first used as a slur. It literally means ‘little Christ’. Yet, the early Church adopted this title for themselves because it was what they most aspired to be: they aspired to be like Jesus. They put into practice what they had learned from Jesus: to represent Christ and make him known.
To explore Christianity is to understand Jesus; to consider how he acted towards others, what he taught, how he lived, and why he died.
The Bible says: ‘If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.’ This means that, when we become a Christian, we may look the same on the outside but something has forever changed on the inside. Christians believe that God sends his Holy Spirit to live within us. The Spirit challenges, inspires and equips us to continue the journey of the Christian life.
The Bible teaches that the sign and marker of a new life in Christ is baptism.(Just as Christ died on the cross for us, so we are called to die to our old ways.) Instead of following selfish desires and ambitions, we can say ‘sorry’ to God for the wrong that we have said and done and commit ourselves to go in a new, selfless direction. This means following Jesus and putting our trust in him.
Christianity teaches that this change of direction restores a person’s relationship with God. Through Christ, God forgives us and offers us a fresh start. It is his gift. This new start enables us to begin an adventure of life and faith.
This adventure of faith is not done alone, but in community. Christians are called together in small and larger communities to support and encourage one another in their faith. The word ‘church’ means ‘the gathering of the people’.
So, it matters less what kind of building you meet in (or what traditions and practices you adopt) than that the God of love (who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is honoured and worshipped. That worship (giving worth to God) flows into every area of our lives and relationships. We are called to be ‘little Christs’ when we gather and when we go out into the world.
The churches and communities of Southwark Diocese are here to help you discover Christianity for yourself. Do find out more about your local church by looking at our Find a Church page.