What Do We Believe?
Christian life is lived in relationship with God through Jesus Christ and, in common with other Christians, seeking to deepen that relationship and to follow the way that Jesus taught.
Central to that relationship is knowing we can trust God. Saint Paul says at the end of the eighth chapter of his letter to the Church in Rome, ‘if God is for us, who can be against us?’ And this is the heart of faith.
How do we know that ‘God is for us’? Because Jesus Christ, the one human being who is completely in tune with God – with what God wants and what God is doing – has carried the burden of our human betrayals of God and running away from goodness. He has let himself be betrayed and rejected, executed in a humiliating and agonising way, and yet has not turned his back on us. Death did not succeed in silencing him or removing him from the world. He is alive; and that means that his love is alive, having survived the worst we can do.
Nothing – says St Paul in the same passage – can separate us from this love. But this isn’t an excuse for doing what we like, knowing we can get away with it. Once we know that God is ‘for us’, we open up to the gift that God wants to give us – which is a share in his own love and freedom and mercy. We breathe with his breath – that’s part of what it means to say that we receive God’s ‘Spirit’, which makes us live like Jesus ‘in tune’ with God. If we have really taken the message in, we shall live lives of selfless generosity, always asking how the gifts given us – material or imaginative or spiritual or whatever – can be shared in a way that brings other people more fully alive. And we shall be able to trust the generosity of others and be free to receive what they have to give us.
Generosity, gratitude, confidence that when we fail we are still loved – all of this focused on Jesus’ life and death and resurrection. That’s where we start in the lifelong job of being a Christian.
More formally, on Sundays, and on major feast days throughout the year, you will hear the church say or sing the words of the Creed. This is a series of statements which profess what we strive to believe, and put into practice. This statement was hundreds of years in the discerning as the church grappled with the reality of God’s revelation.
I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light,true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men 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, and rose again on the third day 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 kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.