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Being a Christian 

A personal view of what being a Christian means, by Baptist pastor Nic Boyns



I am a follower of Jesus because I am attracted to all the goodness that I find in him, and I find a solution to the problem of all that is not good, both within myself, within others and in the natural world. I know Jesus both through what I read about Him in the Bible, but also in my own experience. 

Because of Jesus I know that God is love. God is for us. God invites us to live in relationships in which we are for others, not against them. Loving relationships are primarily characterised by generosity and kindness - indeed life is always in the first place a gift to us, as shown to us both in the love of our parents and in the created world. Thankfulness giving rise to Joy is not difficult when I see the world in these terms.

The historic life of Jesus, and my experience of the Spirit of Jesus show this generosity, which is particularly shown to those who have experienced the absence of love - whether the damage of an absence of people being for them, but also the damage caused by people being against them. The love of God is shown in the making of things right, or Justice and Healing (good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners & the oppressed, and recovery of sight for the blind), which leads to contentment and peace.

This need to make things right arises from the freedom associated with love.  Love is something which can be given or not given. This freedom gives rise to dreadful consequences - not only in the unloving actions that can occur, but also in the unloving reactions to unloving actions (particularly in terms of payback). Love’s reaction is to continue to love those who are, to a greater or lesser extent, unloving - focusing on the person rather than their failings.

Love faithfully suffers the consequences of other person’s unloving, rather than inflicting the consequences on the one who was unloving - in other words, love is forgiving. The death of God’s Son on the cross and his resurrection are of the utmost importance, since it shows that this suffering forgiveness is at the heart of the nature of God and also that it gives rise to life which is not stopped by death.   

When I trust God that all of the above is true and live accordingly, then I believe that I am sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus. What fuels such faith is the spirit of Jesus Christ (the Holy Spirit), and it gives me hope, not that only good things will ever happen to me, and not that I will never die, but rather that I will be loved for ever and will have the opportunity to love God and love those around me, for ever.

Being a Christian is a humbling experience because I am aware that my experience of love is just the tip of the iceberg of the love of God.  

The life that I find in Jesus is deep rather than nice, since it includes suffering. However it is ever-lasting.

The Bible verses that this is based on are as follows: 

I believe

Image | Priscilla Du Preez | Unsplash

Nic Boyns is pastor of Cherry Hinton Baptist Church, Cambridge. He wrote this reflection for a couple of people who were exploring their faith. It is published here with Nic's permission

Baptist Times, 23/02/2018
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