Jesus

Metro...a Jesus community

In 21st century postmodern culture it is quite common to assume that all major world religions, including Christianity, point to the same God. If all religions point to the same God, however, one would imagine that they would say the same basic things about Him.

But if we examine each of the major world religions, we find that they actually disagree over fundamental points. Buddhists disbelieve in the existence of a personal God. Eastern mystic religions teach that everything is God - you are God, I am God, the tree is God, good is God, evil is God, and so on and so forth. Hindu sects propose the existence of over 300 million gods of varying levels of importance. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam teach that God is the Creator, that we were made by Him, that He is holy and just, that He is a personal God, and that He has defined the difference between good and evil.

But there is a sense in which Christianity is different than any other religion. All other major world religions teach that you must get yourself together to earn your way into some alternative version of eternal bliss. You must pray five times a day, give alms, fast, take a pilgrimage, use a prayer wheel, abstain from certain foods, observe the Sabbath, or perform some other act to end up in heaven.

Christianity is different. God tells us that we will never earn or deserve a right relationship with Him. We simply cannot live up to His standards. Instead, God has taken the initiative. Because of His great love for us, He came to earth as a man to rescue us from the penalty of death that our wrongdoing deserves. John 3:16 says this: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

No other religion can point to a moment in history and say, “This is what God has done for you.” No other religion describes how God has entered our world to save us. Religion is our attempt at finding God. Christianity is God’s attempt at finding us.

Metro is a Jesus community.  We believe that Jesus is the way to God. We believe that Jesus is the truth for life. We believe that following Jesus is the way to real life.   If you decide to come to Metro you'll hear about Jesus and will be encouraged to follow Him.  And if Metro becomes your church home you'll be expected to grow into the likeness of Jesus. 

Here is a more in-depth article about who Jesus is.  It's worth the read:

THE JESUS ARTICLE 

Who is Jesus?

In the Gospel of Mark (in the New Testament Bible), Jesus asks a question to Peter, one of his students, that maybe you are asking right now; "who do people say I am?" Jesus wanted to know what Peter thought about Him. Peter, playing it safe, answers with what others think first. But, that's not what Jesus wants to know. So he puts Peter on the spot one more time. This time Jesus is a bit more direct, "Who do you say I am?" You see, Jesus did not want Peter to answer with the company line; Jesus wanted Peter to see for himself who he was. He wanted Peter to have his own relationship with him.

Today, Jesus could look at any one and ask, "In a world of bio‐diversity, cultural‐diversity, and ethical‐ diversity, who do you say I am? In a world of individualism, commercialism and a long list of "other‐ isms" who do you say I am? In a world or ramped hunger, violent behavior and wanted pain, who do you, say I am? In a world of single parents, broken homes and children giving birth to children, who do you say I am? In a world defined by product recognition, catchy slogans and designer jeans, who do you say I am?

Many people over the ages have answered this question in many different ways. Peter, when confronted with the question had to answer in the truth he knew, "You are the messiah, the Christ, the son of the living God." Wow, talk about a powerful set of words ‐ the son of God, God in the flesh ‐ this seems so hard for us to come to grips with today. Is this because of our skeptical nature? No, I don't think so ‐ I believe it is because we have cause to doubt.

When we look around we see the fall of our heroes ‐ those we hold in high regard have proven to be less then worthy ‐ our religious leaders have affairs and become centered on money, or preach what they do not practice; our politicians steal, cheat and lie and claim they do so for our benefit, yet they get rich; our teachers have improper relationships with children and our family units are falling apart. When we see those who demand our respect, (mainly due to their position), show nothing worthy of our respect, we are lost. When we demand transparency in our leaders, and only see fogged windows and clogged pipes, what are we to believe?

How are we to believe that this Jesus can be any different then the rest? Is he truly the salvation of humanity ‐ after all, those who claim to follow Him are not exactly worth modeling; and how can we believe in perfection in this world? The questions are many, and the reality to palpable to ignore. So, who is this Jesus and what is He all about? Are the claims about Him legit? And most important, should you follow him?

Some basic facts:

Name: Jesus in Greek; Joshua in Hebrew (pronounced, "ya‐shoe‐a") keep in mind that the letter "j" is not part of the Greek or Hebrew alphabet. The actual letter in the beginning of the names is "i." His name gives it away ‐ it means 'anointed Savior.' The name "Jesus" is actually an "English" understanding of his true name ‐ Joshua.

Dates: from 0 to 35AD‐ exact dates are not known; some give the birth at year 4ad, others at 6ad, and still others as early as the year 0. Some give the date of his "death" at 32ad and others 33ad, while some go as high as 36ce. (The birth and life of Jesus was so dramatic and life changing, Humanity reordered their calendars around His birth.)

Conditions at birth: Born into social scandal with huge question marks over the legitimacy of his birth. (Luke 2:5‐7 states that Joseph and Mary were not married at the time of Jesus' birth, only "engaged to be married") Jesus was the eldest child (one of several) of a Jewish carpenter and Mary, his teenage mother who was still a virgin! He was born into poverty, and as tradition has it, his earthly father, Joseph, died when Jesus was young (maybe in His early teen years), leaving Mary to single parenthood to raise Jesus and his brothers and sister alone and with more than likely facing income problems.

While a great deal of his early life is based on tradition with little proof (though there are some accounts of his ‘tween’ years,) we do know a great deal about the last three to four years of his life and active ministry. He was born in a time when political and social turmoil were the norm. Rome ruled Palestine. The Jewish faith was an allowable faith practice as long as the Jews paid taxes to Caesar. The Romans were at the time of Christ not interested in the daily affairs of their conquered territories in Palestine. They established ‘state’ governors and area ‘Kingdoms’ to provide Roman rule.

Religion: Jesus was born into a Jewish family. In fact, Jesus would be considered a "good Jew" because he obeyed all feast days, and was seen at the temple on many occasions.

Early life: He was born in the tiny village of Bethlehem (During the Roman census that Caesar Augustus had ordered.) Taking a census was a common practice for the Roman Empire. It allowed them, much like the United States today, to track the population growth and trends of their culture. Jesus was raised in small town Nazareth; he also spent many years of his youth living in Egypt. Many of the early years of his life are covered in mystery and there is no record of where he was and what he did. (Some "non‐ canonical" scriptures (non‐biblical texts) do give some information, but they are questionable at best.)

Ministry: Jesus spent his whole ministry wandering as a preacher and miracle worker in the Israeli deserts, towns and countryside, particularly around Galilee, Judea and Samaria. He was a faithful Jew; he went up to the big city of Jerusalem for the main feasts and festivals, and to stop over with his growing band of friends and followers. It was on a hill outside Jerusalem's city walls where he died violently at the hands of the Romans. He was a popular ‘figure’ of His day. There are many, many ancient historical non‐religious texts that speak of Jesus’ life and the cultural effect that he was having on the region where he lived in and around Jerusalem. Whether you ‘believe in’ the claims of Christ and the claims that the Scriptures make of Him no one can deny the incredible affect his teachings have had on humanity. He taught of the Holiness of God wrapped in the Grace of a Loving God.

What he is: We say "what he is," because Jesus is alive for us today, and we know that sounds strange because we speak of his death and he is not walking around today. (See proofs of Resurrection below.) Jesus lived a perfect life, communicating love, peace and freedom to everyone from all generations, past, present and future. We believe that Jesus is alive and well today and living in the hearts of all people who decide to make the commitment and become a "follower of the way."

The personality of Jesus:

  • He is radical: He violated almost all of the religious traditions of his day. He touched the "unclean," the unwanted, the unacceptable, and ministered to their needs. He argued with the religious leaders of his day condemning them for their strict adherence to the law, and their legalistic view of a meaningful relationship with God – Jesus’ intention was not to form a new religion, but rather for us to form a radical relationship with God. He was deemed a rebel and a no‐good troublemaker who simply wanted to change things with out thinking ‐ sound like someone you know?
  • He is transparent: Jesus was who he was, and he did not pretend to be something he was not; and he made no bones about it. He stood his ground, and did not waiver to please the desires of others ‐ he spoke the words God gave him, and he was sure of the power of those words. He was happy with who he was, and he did not care if others did not like what he had to say, he said it anyway – He wore His passions, His love, His concerns and His commitment to God the Father on His sleeve‐ sound like something you want?
  • He is transforming: He healed those who were sick in body, mind or spirit ‐ he even was known to raise the dead! (A few times). He hung out with all kinds of people. He befriended religious and non‐religious alike. He dined with prostitutes, politicians, IRS types, business people and the poor, crippled and needy alike. He built special relationships with the group of 12, called disciples (6 unemployed, one tax collector and 5 were day labors) ‐ Those who chose to believe in him and follow him in a new way of thinking eventually birthed "Christianity” and the Christian Church teaching that a relationship with God could be intimate and personal. He was a friend who would do anything for a friend ‐ sound like something you need?
  • He is tribal: Jesus had family, a mother, brothers and sisters. He even had extended family, aunts, uncles, cousins and grand parents ‐ yet he expanded his "family view" to include friends and strangers. He strived with the "big picture" to love everyone, even the unlovable, to accept everyone, even the unacceptable ‐ to be tribal in nature and direction. For Jesus, water is thinker than blood. He welcomed many people into his community. In fact, he was quoted and saying that anyone who follows him would be considered a family member ‐ sound like somewhere to belong?
  • He is honest and safe: He gave people a sense of belonging and value, and never demanded them to do anything in return. He brought meaning and purpose to everyday life and living and connected no strings to His commitment to them. No person, no matter who they were or where they came from, was deemed beyond his friendship, love and care. Sound like someone you’d want to do life with?
  • He is not status quo: Jesus, because of his radical nature, became extremely unpopular with the political, the institutional establishment, and the religious rulers of his day. As a result of this unpopularity Jesus ended up being convicted of false charges, tried by a prejudiced jury, condemned by a cowardly judge, tortured and beaten beyond all recognition, and killed as an innocent man by the cruelest means known possible ‐ crucifixion. Sound like someone who was committed?
  • He is not dead: Surprise!!! He was crucified, dead (he didn't stay dead!!!) and buried in a tomb borrowed from a rich friend (yes, he had rich friends ‐ remember, he loved everyone) and guarded by a few roman soldiers. Yet, many witnesses (over 500) testify that he rose from the dead and was seen again walking and talking with people. Some even touched him physically, and eat with him; he was no ghost ‐ he really was alive and well in human flesh. Remember this, the rock was not moved so Jesus could get out of the tomb, the rock was moved for us to enter. Sound like someone worth following?
  • He is timeless: People through all generations of time and history have not only believed the story of who Jesus was (and is) and what he did, but they have also experienced him in real, transforming grace first hand. They have discovered, what a great many have discovered, that He is as real, relevant and alive. This generation is no exception. What he has to say speaks to us, befriends us, guides us, heals our brokenness and pain, and intervenes in our lives just as he did when he was on earth and always has done. His touch is real and timeless and can restore a torn life. Sound like something that would help?
  • He is God in the flesh: I know, it's hard to believe, but just because it's hard to believe does not make it "unbelievable." After all, I have never seen a billion dollars, yet I believe a billion dollars is real. I’ve never even seen my own brain but I know it’s there. If you desire to have the heart of a rebel, to be transparent, and to be accepted for who you are, not what others desire you to be, then may I suggest you look deeper into the claims of Christianity because it is something we all can use.

If you desire to know more about Jesus the Christ may we suggest you "get connected" to a group of people who will take the time to share with you their personal experiences with God and their faith walk. Get hooked into a local church that teaches directly from the Bible. We’d like to invite you to our home church...Metro CITY Church. It’s modern, relevant...different. Metro is a JESUS Community. We want to know, love and follow Him. And you are invited to be part of this process.

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