Our vision as a church is to see people
finding and following Jesus.
It’s not about religion. God is waiting for a personal relationship.
Because they don’t like church, or “churchy” people, many have decided that they don’t want religion. Guess what? Religion isn’t what anyone has ever needed, and it is not what we advocate. Religion has never gotten anyone into heaven, and pious living hasn’t gotten anybody closer to God.
The living God who created the universe is not sitting up in heaven hoping that you find religion. He is waiting for you to find Him.
In the beginning, the human race was created to be friends with God. With love he crafted each person, desiring to walk with them in a close alliance. That is true of you also. He knows you better than you know yourself, and He still wants to be close to you. He wants to walk with you through this life, talk you through the difficult moments that our society lobs your way, and direct you to the paths that are going to provide protection, fulfilment, and purpose.
Although God longs for a relationship with everyone, not all walk with Him closely. To have an intimate relationship, you must first recognize that you need Him.
Religion has never gotten anyone into heaven.
Now, you might have a hard time with that concept. You might want to jump up and argue that you aren’t that bad. However, unless you are perfect (according to God’s standards), then you are a sinner. And there is only one who has been perfect. God has an enemy, and millenniums ago, his enemy attacked what He loved the most. He ambushed the human race trying to destroy their connection with God. When that happened, it changed the make-up of us all. When evil connected with the first humans, it became part of our nature. It rested in all of our bloodlines. We are all sinners.
As loving as God is, His nature also demands justice. Sin demands death. Either the death of the sinner, or the death of a substitute. Because His heart would have broken if He were to put to death His “friends”, God chose to provide a substitute.
A little over 2,000 years ago, God’s only son Jesus was sent from heaven to earth to be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all humanity.
So, now a relationship with God and His son is possible; and actually much easier than you would expect. All a person must do to enter into relationship with God who loves you perfectly and will never turn his back on you is invite Him to be a part of your life.
This decision is sealed in your heart when you recognize that God loves you, that you need Him to overcome your sin, and when you surrender your heart to Him. When you make this decision, you realize that you are giving up your ways, dreams, and plans for the ones that He had in mind when he created you.
The benefits are irresistible. In return for this decision, you receive the promise of heaven. You don’t have to be afraid of death, because you now are guaranteed eternity with God himself. However, there are so many other promises that are yours as well. He will offer forgiveness for all of the sins and mistakes in your past. You are promised peace, help, and hope as you walk through life. And, you are guaranteed that God will always be right there with you.
Sounds great doesn’t it? However, by ignoring Him, some will continue to walk separated, never able to hear Him calling out. Others, will avoid him all together simply because they aren’t willing to live with Him and for Him.
What about you? Are you ready to begin a relationship with the God who created you? If your heart is right, it is actually very simple. All you have to do is pray a simple prayer like this:
“God, thank you for loving me. Even though I don’t deserve your love, I can’t ignore it. I recognize that I am a sinner and I need Jesus. Without His substitute, I would have to pay for my own sins. God, I choose you. I want a relationship with you. Would you please come and be a part of my life? I surrender everything that I am to you. Forgive me of my sins, and change me from the inside out. Help me as I begin this new relationship with you. Teach me as I go. I love you, thanks for loving me. Amen”
What is involved in following Jesus?
To start with, you don’t have to be perfect to follow Jesus. We are all imperfect and broken people following the only one was perfect, Jesus. Despite all that we are not, he invites us into relationship with Him and by His grace, calls us to follow Him. No matter what you may or may not have done in your life, or no matter who you are or are not, you can be a follower of Jesus as you authentically respond to His invitation to follow Him.
Following Jesus involves transformation, though. It involves transformation from the inside out as God works in our life to make us more like Jesus. Changes in our attitudes and actions, and our perspectives and our priorities in life are all a part of the process of changing to become more of the person that God created us to be. Jesus makes it clear that to follow Him involves denying ourselves and our self-centred focuses to instead allow the things that are important to Him to become important to us.
Following Jesus is a whole of life thing. It is not something we do just on a Sunday at church, but every day of the week wherever we are and whatever we are doing. It is also not something just for a season of life, but a commitment of our lives as a whole through both the good and the difficult.
Following Jesus is not something we can do in isolation but in community with others. Jesus calls us to be a part of a community of people who together follow Him and share their lives along the way. We all need each other for encouragement, support and accountability as part of the journey of following Jesus. Worship, prayer, learning from the Bible and sharing of food and our lives are just some of the things that we do as a part of coming together week by week.
Following Jesus involves following the pathway that He directs us in. The steps that we take in our lives need to be the steps that he has for us, not our own. It is only as we take time to regularly read the Bible, which is full of God’s directions for our lives, and to pray, which involves dependence on God and listening to Him, that we can effectively follow Him. None of us can follow Jesus relying on our own capabilities, but we need to rely on His resources.
Following Jesus also involves looking beyond ourselves. We seek to be people who are attentive to the needs of others, and who make a very real difference in the lives of others in our broken and hurting world. We are blessed by God not simply for our own sakes, but to be a blessing to others.