The name 'Christian' is no accident.
It expresses the fact that Jesus Christ is the very heart and soul of what it is to be a Christian, because he is the very heart and soul of what God is doing in the world. God's great project is to make a world fit for his presence. The Bible's story is the story of our world, and especially of human beings, in relation to God. The story can be summarised under five headings:
This is God’s world. He made it and continues to sustain it. He made it to reflect his nature by being a place of life and peace. He made humanity to enjoy his world and to live in thankful obedience and dependence on him.
From the beginning, humans arrogantly asserted their independence from God. Though it broke God’s heart, he let them go. By rejecting the source of life and peace, they opened the door for evil to infect God’s world. Life gave way to death, and conflict came to dominate God’s world. Every human since, including you and me, has been caught up in this. We have all sought to live independently of God. We have all experienced enslavement to Evil. And consequently, we all know the anguish of dealing with death and conflict in our lives.
God is committed to the world and to the people he has made. He is not willing to accept death and conflict as a part of life. And so out of his great love, God sent his Son Jesus to defeat Evil and renew the world he loves. Jesus lived life as it was always meant to be lived – in thankful obedience and dependence on God, with a deep love for others and a passion for truth and justice. Jesus’ obedience and love culminated in him dying on a cross for us. He died as a sacrifice for our involvement with Evil and to rescue us from our enslavement to Evil. On the third day, God raised Jesus to life as the first of a renewed humanity and as Lord of a renewed world.
As Lord, Jesus will complete God’s renewing work in this world. He will return, and on that day, the reality that Jesus is Lord will be revealed. Evil will be finally brought to nothing so that life and peace may prevail in God’s world. And just as Jesus has been raised, so on that day God’s people will be raised to life to enjoy the renewed world with God. But those who continue to assert their independence from God will be excluded from God’s world together with all that is evil.
Now, as Lord, Jesus has authority to forgive and give new life. Therefore today is a day of hope. God commands all people, including you and me, to turn from a life of involvement with evil and to seek his mercy. God’s promise is that those who turn to him will be forgiven, and will receive the gift of the Spirit to strengthen them for a life of obedience to Jesus. And God’s promise is that those who eagerly await his Son’s return will be raised to share in the life of God’s renewed world.