Faith – A Very Short Introduction
By David Hoyle, Dean of Bristol
Faith is in the things we cannot see and cannot quite define. That does not mean that faith is imaginary – any story you care to make up – Faith is what takes you deeper and further, and out of the ordinary. If faith is going to be any help at all when you get in deeper, or go out further, it has to be a lot better than make believe. The big claim Christianity makes is that we find what we are looking for in the one thing that we might really understand; a human life, in Jesus Christ.
The ‘good news’ in the Christian faith is actually very simple. Jesus invites us to follow him. He lived human life fully and asks us to do the same. It is simple, but demanding. Jesus is the one human who lived without asserting himself or apologising for himself – without ‘rivalry or envy’. His humanity was so startling and unfamiliar that his critics put him to death. Being ‘fully’ human turns out to be uncomfortable and costly. As a favourite writer put it, ‘If you do not love you will not be alive. If you love fully it will kill you’.
Jesus was put to death, but not defeated. His love and mercy are alive and at work. Christian faith is not just an invitation to live fully; it is the promise that when life becomes difficult there is still hope, forgiveness and love.
There is a lot more to say, of course, but Christian faith really does turn on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is why St Paul declared he wanted to ‘know nothing except Jesus Christ, and him crucified’ (1 Corinthians 2:2). Faith, though, is not a solitary activity. Jesus Christ preached the coming of a Kingdom – a place where we will live together in justice and peace. Faith is an invitation to follow Christ, in company.
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