As you might imagine, I get asked a lot of questions.
Some of them are very straightforward: “Do I have to book before I come to Church?” No! Just come along! “Can I talk to someone about having my child baptised or getting married in Church?” Yes! Our contact details are below, but why not come along one Sunday and chat? “Will my children be welcome? They struggle to sit still!” Of course! We’re used to having kids around at our services but you might find our afternoon service more relaxing as it’s geared for parents with young children.
But some questions are more complicated: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “How can I believe in the God of the Bible in a world where so many people believe in all kinds of different gods?” “Could I be a Christian and still trust science?” “Is this life it — or is there something more?”
Those are all good questions; the kind questions people ask when they are starting to examine the world and the meaning of life. Perhaps you are asking some of those questions yourself or you know people who are.
Many people think that to believe the Christian faith involves blind faith and an absence of thought and evidence. They think that believing in the God of the Bible is like believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden. But that isn’t true! The Christian faith is based on evidence — solid, trustworthy historical evidence about the person of Jesus, his life, work, death and resurrection. So before we try and grapple with those other worthy questions, the one question we need to answer is: Who do we say Jesus is?
It was a question that people were asking 2000 years ago and one that Jesus asked too. In Mark 8:27-29 Jesus asked his disciples who the people were saying Jesus was, and then he asked them what they thought. It’s a seminal moment in Mark’s gospel and the answer Peter gives on behalf of the disciples is stunning in its clarity and insight: “You are the Christ!” Peter was an eyewitness. He had heard all that Jesus had taught and seen all that Jesus had done and he was left in no doubt that Jesus was God’s long promised rescuing King — God made flesh and dwelling amongst us.
And if that is the case — if, when we look at Jesus we see the God-Man, the perfect representation of what God is like in character and power as the Bible claims — then those other questions cease to be so difficult to answer.
Bad things happened to Jesus too and yet God used them for great good. What’s more, Jesus’ power to deal with pain and suffering shows that all is not lost! That same power shows that the God of the Bible alone is trustworthy above all the pretend-gods of the world and other religions. And since the historical accuracy of the Bible stands up to scrutiny we can and should use our brains and examine that evidence in the same way scientists do. And when we do, it’s clear that this life is not all there is. Jesus was and is God and eternal life is found only through him. May you find it to be so too!