- In the voice of: Christian
- Spoken to: Christians
- Source Text: Matthew 26, Luke 22, Acts 7, John 13
Without writing down one instruction, Jesus left humans hope of eternity with three sets of brothers who grew up in a fishing town of 1,500 (and a few friends). They had at least one full year of following this teacher and healer (who never seemed to answered a question directly). How could this plan not work?
He told stories in response to everyone’s questions, but the high priest says, “I formally ask you by the living God, that you tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God” and Jesus replies, “If I tell you, you won’t believe, and if I ask, you will in no way answer me or let me go. You have said it. Nevertheless, I tell you, after this you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the power of God, and coming on the clouds of the sky.” They all said, “Are you then the Son of God?” He said to them, “You say it, because I AM”
That’s when everyone knew… he was going to die. In that moment; the seed of Truth began to split open. However, it wasn’t until Steven’s murder (the first martyr) that everyone realized how crazy “The Way” of Christianity really is. A core doctrine of our belief is that we cannot lie about knowing Christ, or he will disown us before God. While Christianity’s first martyr was being murdered, Steven looked up into the sky and said, “Look, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
That’s when everyone knew… he was going to die too. As he knelt down, being peppered with stones, Stephen cried loudly, “Ruler, don’t hold this wrong against them! They don’t know what they’re doing.” There are pieces of Christianity which are easy to imitate, but our core of selfless service and forgiveness is impossible to fake.
A few centuries later (when power was really starting to get into bed with the church), over 1,500 church leaders representing over 300 church communities met in a town called Nicea, to come up with a commonly held and clear baseline of belief across Christian. (We call it the Nicean Creed).
This Creed still stands today:
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Maker of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Ruler, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally born of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, fathered, not made, consubstantial of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us humans and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his standard will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Owner, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy universal and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Long before that gathering at Nicea, Paul wrote a shorter (but brilliant) description of the fruit that will grow out of the community of Truth – offering, “The fruit of the spirit is love. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control have no laws written against them.”
The best foundation of this community of Truth was spoken by Christ in the temple. A priest asked, “which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus answered him,”The greatest is, ‘listen my people; the ruler our source – God is one. You are to love the ruler your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is like this; you are to love your neighbor like you love yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
If we have love for each other, everyone will know that we are Christ’s disciples. It is simple enough for a child to understand, but so difficult that after a long life – we can still only hope to be beginning to reflect this pattern of perfection.