You may be “New to Jesus.” You may honestly have very little information about Jesus. You may not have been raised in the Church or grown up around anyone with any information about Jesus to share with you. You’ve heard his name, though, and you have decided you are curious enough to investigate. Great! Feel free to read the following response to our “second” type of reader, or scroll down to the paragraph marked “New to Jesus.”
You may already be a Christian or at least an admiring student of Jesus, maybe “shopping” for a faith community, and you are interested to know something of our experience of Jesus here at North Oak Christian Church.
Among the most significant themes of Jesus’ mission was inclusion, hospitality, God’s embrace of welcome for all people. Therefore we feel called to be a faith community which is inclusive. (NOCC participants come from many different church backgrounds and several from no formal church background.) We welcome a diversity of views about Jesus. We do not insist on theological conformity (we welcome “liberals” and “conservatives”…we can learn from one another) but urge upon each participant an effort-full prayerfully committed growing relationship with Christ, along with faithful support and participation of the ministry we share in Christ’s name.
Finally, a word about the Bible. We recognize the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures as written by people who were profoundly inspired. In our reading and in our listening to the words of Scripture, we are likewise enlightened and “shaped” by the same Spirit which was at work in the writers themselves. Hence, the Bible is a dynamic and living revelatory collection of writings through which God emerges to be present to us as wisdom, comfort, and joyful possibility, expanding our hearts and minds. The Bible reveals light and truth and Good News to us every time we prayerfully attend to these writings and prayerfully interpret their message for our lives. Yes, we believe in prayerful interpretation. We would not call ourselves Biblical Literalists.
Give thanks! You are beginning an amazing journey of discovery, and hopefully a life transforming adventure as a follower or “Disciple” of Jesus of Nazareth, who is called “Christ” which means “Messiah” or “Anointed One.”
The following introduction to Jesus is brief but, we hope, serves as an encouragement to you. We want to support in any way we can your effort to learn more about Jesus. Feel free to contact us or visit.
Jesus lived in the early years of the first century, growing up in the occupied nation of Israel in the eastern reaches of one of the most powerful empires the world had known up to that time….Rome. By the time of his early thirties, he was engaged in a mission of proclaiming the presence and power, in us and around us, of God’s Kingdom, God’s Empire—a Commonwealth of forgiveness, non violence, and restorative justice. He made a special point of associating with those who were considered to be outcasts in the culture; prostitutes, the sick, rich tax collectors, people labeled by the religious establishment as “sinners.” He declared God’s solidarity with ALL PEOPLE. He strongly affirmed the humble, the “poor in spirit,” and those yearning for a world flourishing with peace. He offered piercing critique to the arrogantly powerful and the self righteous. His primary mode of teaching (the parable) and many remarkable accounts of his power to heal, brought to him a large following.
In those days, to talk about a Kingdom in Israel, especially a kingdom OTHER than the kingdom of the Roman Emperor, was politically dangerous. Jesus was perceived to be a political rebel and a threat to civil stability by the Roman officials in Jerusalem. Therefore, he was executed as a criminal: crucified on a cross. His public ministry lasted somewhere between one and three years.
The first four books of the New Testament (the Gospels) are our primary source of information about Jesus. These books bear witness to the faith of the first generation of people who came to be called followers of the “Way” and who later came to be known as Christians.
Their faith, and the faith of today’s Christians, was grounded in the experience of Christ’s resurrection (his living presence among them) and of Christ’s gift to them of the Holy Spirit. They came to believe that Jesus was God’s self – revelation, and that in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, God was acting indeed to bring about a new order of love and justice in the world. They came to see themselves as heralds of, and participants in, this new order. This remains the passionate vision of the Christian Community today in every place, including NOCC.
We believe, as they did, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. What does that mean? It means that, “He is the image of the invisible God…” that in Jesus, “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1: 15, 19). This is a Holy Mystery that we embrace with prayerful faith. In Christ, we are graciously awakened to “see” the nature of the Divine love for all humanity (nothing, not even rejection and crucifixion can cause God to stop loving us), and the nature of God’s intention for us…the abundant life, which is to live and love freely, fearlessly, and selflessly….as Jesus lived and loved…extending grace to all people.
Risking oversimplification, the Christian spiritual life (life in Christ) is an ever-deepening experience of discovering and re-discovering the goodness and giftedness of humankind, created in God’s image (Genesis 1). God’s love for us, as shown forth in Christ, is so profound, it liberates us from our deeply embedded self-centered attitudes and behavior (sin) and fills us with the “fruit” of the Spirit, love, gentleness, patience etc (Galatians 5:29) The most beautiful expression of Jesus’ wisdom appears in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapters 5 thru 7….the “Sermon on the Mount.” The most beautiful expression of Jesus’ teaching about God’s unconditional love for us all is found in the parables of Luke 15. The most famous of these is the parable of the lost son.
There is so much more to tell! So much more for us all to learn! “No one who drinks the water I shall give will ever be thirsty again. The water I shall give will become a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life” (John 4: 14).
We would love to welcome you and encourage you in any way!
“What did Jesus’ followers see in him? They saw a human being fully alive. And for them such life carried Divine power and authority. But more important, this way of being fully and freely human had now entered the heart of Reality as a catalyst in human transformation. Like a bell that reverberates to the core of our being, Jesus, the Human Being, is, as it were, an invitation to become the fullness of who we are. And with the invitation comes the power to do it.”
Walter Wink—contemporary spiritual writer
One of the best and most current discussions of this question, “Who is Jesus?” can be found in a book entitled “The Meaning of Jesus” co-written by two respected Jesus scholars, N.T. Wright and Marcus Borg. These authors, both devoted to Jesus Christ, nevertheless have some differing views on his life, death and resurrection. The book is a very stimulating source of reflection for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of Jesus. Highly recommended by our pastor, the book is widely available.