If you were to make a film of the Christian faith, then one person would be the center of attention: Jesus. Not a rom-com, science fiction or thriller, but a true love story.
His name is at the top in big letters. Subtitle: The savior of us all. Who is that Jesus? And why does he play the leading role in the Christian faith?
What is christianity?
The Christian faith, also known as Christianity, is one of the largest and best-known world religions. There are 2.3 billion Christians in the world. Although there is a colorful collection of churches that often differ in opinion, one thing is central to everyone: that they want to follow Jesus.
Jesus: the first influencer?
Follow Jesus? Sounds like he was some celebrity or influencer with thousands of followers. Yes and no. He is certainly world famous and has many followers, but Jesus' life is far from Insta-proof. In the bible you can read how he deals with ex-prostitutes, fishermen, oppressive tax collectors, people with serious skin diseases… Just imagine his selfies!
No, Jesus' life wasn't exactly glitz and glamour. His message was radical and rebellious and the leaders at that time were not particularly happy with that. He was met with a lot of opposition and negative comments.
Who is Jesus?
According to muslims, Jesus was a prophet. Christians believe Jesus wasn't just a wise teacher or prophet. His miracles and expressions and the timeline of his life were outstanding. Many people believed and still believe that Jesus is the son of God.
Because 2,000 years after his birth, Jesus' words still force one to completely rethink: "Be humble, love one another and God above all else." It is this message that makes Christianity still the fastest growing religion in the world. Every day new followers are added who accept the words of Jesus and want to live it out.
Jesus changed everything
What Jesus says and does is recorded in the Bible. Jesus has unleashed a true revolution. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, you cannot ignore the enormous impact he has had on this world.
He turned the world upside down. Even our era is based on his birth and our calendar is filled with Christian holidays like Christmas, Easter, Ascension Day and Pentecost. Jesus paints a revolutionary bigger picture: a picture of how the world should be.
Symbols in christianity
Christianity is known for a few famous symbols. Do you recognise the meaning of the symbols below?
Who is God according to Christians?
The Creator, the Almighty, our Father. All names of God. The shortest summary of God according to Christians? God is love. The purest, most beautiful, deepest form of love imaginable. From that love he has made people and the whole world. And because of that love he wants to be part of everyone's life. God lets you make your own choices. Whether you want to get to know God better is up to you. God does pull out all the stops to show that love. How? For that we have to go back to Jesus.
Jesus: the leading man of christianity
Back to our leading man: Jesus. He was born more than 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. His parents are Joseph and Mary and he grew up with them in Nazareth.
From an early age, Jesus talks a lot about spiritual matters. It is clear from the beginning: Jesus is not just a baby. He is the Son of God. From the age of 30 he travels through Israel. He gathers a group of friends around him: the 12 disciples. Everywhere he goes, he speaks of love, sincerity, radicalness and dedication. Because of his miracles and message, more and more people want to follow him.
The leaders (both the Jews and the Roman oppressors) are not amused by the mirror that Jesus often holds out to them. If only they could get rid of him. And so the story takes a dramatic turn. Jesus is arrested, tortured and eventually even killed.
Why Jesus was Horrificly Murdered
Jesus was not murdered because of a crime passionel, a role in the criminal circuit or during a fierce battle in wartime. He was killed because the leaders of the people were afraid of him. Afraid that he would get too many followers and afraid of losing their grip on the people. But what they didn't know is that a very different story was going on behind the scenes. In a completely different dimension.
Jesus also fought against evil. Against inequality, rejection, exploitation and hypocrisy. Also called sins in the Bible. And look around you at the world. With so much poverty and sorrow, it is hard to deny that there is evil in the world.
In our own lives we often choose for ourselves, for our own happiness. Even if it is sometimes at the expense of someone else. If someone hurts you, it can come between you. You may recognize this in your own life. How do you break that barrier?
No more evil
God wants to deal with evil and remove the blockages created by wrong choices, once and for all. And this is at the expense of Jesus. His beloved son.
But Jesus himself knows what he is doing. He knows this is his calling. He dies a terrible death on the cross. His last words: "It is finished." At first it seems as if the credits have already started, as if evil has won. The leaders also thought they had finally got rid of the rioter. But then comes the big plot twist. Jesus rises from the dead. He shows: I am stronger than death. Stronger than evil. And in this power he can remove all barriers.
What is the Trinity?
Have you ever heard of the holy Trinity? We have now talked about God, about Jesus, but what is the third one? That is the Holy Spirit, or God's spirit that accompanies us. Pentecost is a special holiday because that is when his friends receive God's Spirit and are so full that they want to tell the whole world about Jesus (literally). And the people listen and also want to follow Jesus.
So the story continues. It is the beginning of the Christian church!
Different denominations within the church
Strangely enough, the Bible is also the reason that there are many different denominations within Christianity. The differences often lie in how they interpret the Bible. Each denomination puts its own emphasis in the bible and sees different nuances. Half of the world's Christians are Roman Catholic, a third Protestant and another major denomination are Eastern Orthodox Christians. There are also different views and other denominations within these movements.
Honestly, there are a lot of differences among Christians. Over the centuries there have been a lot of quarrels and divisions. Even today, churches continue to disagree about, for example, women in leadership positions in the church or homosexuality.
The main line, however, continues to connect these currents: faith in Jesus as Son of God and savior.
What rituals do Christians have?
Despite the differences, the churches together maintain a number of traditions/customs: baptism and holy communion.
And the most important one… Prayer!
Prayer! Simply said: talking to God. Christians follow the example of Jesus in this. He often prays in the Bible. Jesus wants to show how important it is to connect with God.
Most Christians pray. Be it loud or soft. Together or alone. In your own words or a fixed prayer. They can speak freely to God. So can you!
Prayer is actually not a ritual but an essential life line with God. In times of worry and stress you can turn to God. You can bring all your worries, pain, sorrow and doubts to God. And you can thank God every day for His care and love for you.
If you don't know how to start praying, pray this famous prayer: Our Father, shared by Jesus himself. In this you also see how Christians look to God - as a Father and King.
Now you hopefully know more facts about the Christian faith. But in the end, Christians are never just about the facts and trivia. It is not only a beautiful, inspiring and exciting story. After the end credits, the story continues. It's about relationship. Your relationship. With God. Therefore, the last challenge is to watch this video. Basically a summary of the Christian faith, with words from the Bible, spoken directly to you.