Christianity for beginners

by Rob Newham on 29th February 2024

God’s purpose for your life is to make you like Jesus.

That’s it!   Incidentally, that’s a strong hint as to what your purpose of in life should be – fitting in with his!  Let me explain.

The start of the Bible tells us God made man in his own image.  Now Jesus is the perfect image of God – the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15).  So God made mankind in the image of Jesus; to be like him.  To live like Jesus is what it means to be perfectly human – to be the person God made you to be!  If we live any other way, life WILL go pear-shaped!  Actually that’s easy to check.  What’s hurt you most in the past?  What’s the reason you’ve hurt others?  Isn’t it because someone was (or you were) unlike Jesus in that moment of time?

But why did God make us to be like Jesus?  Well, there’s something important we need to know about God.  He is one God.  But he has always been 3 Persons acting in the unity of one God.  The nearest (but not perfect) picture we have is marriage – a man and woman united in oneness.  The 3 Persons have different names; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

It’s complex, but it explains something unique about God… and why there is a universe!

The unique character of God is that he is passionately loving.  But he doesn’t need us around for him to do that.  He is a loving community all by himself.  And that is why we have a universe to live in.  It’s not primarily because he loves us. It is because the Father loves the Son so much, he created people in his image, and created a universe for  his Son’s image-bearers to live in.  And in that perfect universe man would not die, but live for ever like God’s Son.

But our first parents, Adam & Eve, switched off the ‘Son-likeness’ pretty quickly. They disobeyed God – something the Son would never do.  Now that didn’t stop God being loving.  But his perfect justice means he can’t turn a blind eye to disobedience.  Death entered the world as the penalty of not being like Jesus.  And so did suffering – most of it caused by people acting very unlike the Son, although we bear his image.

However God has always intended his world to see how brilliant his Son is.  And that’s why Jesus, God’s Son in human form, came to live here.  Jesus is uniquely God.  In front of eye-witnesses he did what only God could do (raising the dead etc).  He was perfectly loving.  He lived the life we were created to live.  Although he was God, he was a servant to everyone he met.

He was the perfect flawless human being, who perfectly obeyed his Father.  And his mission (the main reason he came) was to die on the cross… to make it possible for us to swap places with him (from God’s point of view).  On the cross he paid for our pathetic disobedience, by taking God’s punishment in our place.  At the same time, he also made it possible to transfer his perfect track record of obedience onto anyone who asks for it.  That’s what he says in the Bible.

So for those who want to come back to God, who want to start new lives to be like Jesus, we only have to ask.  We ask God to do the swap thing… to forgive us for not living like Jesus (which the Bible calls “sin” and for which he was punished on the cross), and to ask him to make us right with God (by transferring the perfect track record (or ‘righteousness’) of Jesus onto us.  God promises he will love those who who come to him the way he loves his Son.  You only have to ask.

This is where the Holy Spirit comes in.  He first gives people the honesty and humility to admit we aren’t like Jesus.  He creates that need in us to ask God for  his forgiveness.  And then he gives us a supernatural desire to live like Jesus, changing our ability to do that bit by bit.  The Bible describes the result of his work (the fruit of the Spirit) as ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…’ (Galatians 5:22-23).  That’s what Jesus was like.

It’s progressive, but slow, lifelong work.  It’s perfected when the Holy Spirit resurrects us to meet Jesus after we die.  Now, finally, in his company, we’ll live perfectly like him – fulfilling God’s original purpose for our lives.

To summarise…

  1. The Father created us to be like Jesus.
  2. The Son makes us look like Jesus to his Father, when he died on the cross to take our punishment and to give us his righteousness.
  3. The Holy Spirit works in people to supernaturally make us like Jesus, and will resurrect us one day to be perfectly like him.

All this because the Father passionately loves the Son, and the Spirit passionately wants everyone the Father has made, to be like his Son.

This has some implications…

First, it’s wise to fall into step with God’s purposes, rather than fight them.  At the end, he won’t judge people on whether or not they’ve done more good than bad.  What matters most is how important his Son was to us.  It’ll be unendingly sad if we’ve lived as if Jesus isn’t central to our existence when God says he is!  The Bible shows us how seriously God takes our response to his Son.

Second, going to church is all about increasing our view of Jesus’s greatness (or ‘glory’), so that we are strengthened to follow him.  It is not about a Sunday celebration that leaves us on Monday wanting what everyone else on the planet is after (mainly more money!).  It is about wanting to grow our likeness to Jesus in handling a bullying boss at work, handling a bad diagnosis from the doctor, and handling that bad driver who can’t drive but is in charge of the car in front of you!

Third, simple Christianity can be summed up in 2 words Jesus said when he met people – FOLLOW ME.  It is the greatest summons to receive – to be the person you were made to be, with a new God-given ability to be changed into someone like his Son.  Can there be a greater project to give the rest of your life to, than becoming a brand new person – like the one you were made to resemble.  Follow him and the big difference you’ll find is that you become, NOT more religious, but more ‘normal’ – as you become more grateful and loving towards God and others…. in the context of a Christian family near you.

Use the contact form on this website to get in touch, and we’ll chat more.

But you might like to talk to God yourself now… perhaps saying something like this.

Heavenly Father, you made me to be like your Son.  I haven’t lived like him at all.  Please forgive me because your Son paid for my sin on the cross.  Because you love him, please forgive me.  And because you love him, change me so that I live like him from now on.  Lead me to a church where I’m encouraged to do that.  I pray this in his name.  Amen.