In Search of Belief… In Jesus
I am currently reading a book called In Search of Belief by Joan Chittister with a class of adults here at Plymouth, at our Wednesday night Plymouth Academy. The book is an exploration of the Christian creed. It asks us to rethink the main tenants of the Christian faith, and in doing so, challenges us to create for ourselves an adult faith that sustains us, giving us life and meaning. The members of the class have not shied away from this task.
This past week, we discussed the following phrase of the Creed, “I believe in Jesus Christ/God’s only son/our Lord.” In other words, the class asked themselves, who is Jesus to them, answering Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” I thought this blog a great place to report on some of these answers.
The answers from the class (there were six students in the class) were varied and thoughtful. It would be impossible to summarize succinctly what they believed. But I would expect no less from our Plymouth Congregants. How could one answer or a simple theology sum up what we believe about Jesus?
Here are some ways we answered, “Who do you say that I am?”
Jesus shows us the way to live a holy life. He is a bridge between humanity and God, showing us the path towards communion with God. He is the physical embodiment of God’s love. Love in a human body, allowing humans to know and realize God’s love. This is the gift that God gave the world.
The class also recognized that they were Christian because they were born in the United States into Christian families. They were careful not to claim that Jesus was the only path to holiness, but it is the path that they have chosen to take. The path they choose to take everyday. Their goal is to get to know God and this is the way they will carry out this mission.
My students must excuse me as I summed up 90 minutes of conversation and exploration into just a few short paragraphs. Their beliefs and thoughts were clearly more complex and complete than what I’ve written here. But to add one more idea to theirs, it was clear to me as I listened to the group, that they have incorporated the main teachings of Plymouth into their understanding of Jesus and their faith lives. Plymouth invites all people into its doors, no matter who you are or what you believe. This is how Plymouth carries out Jesus’ command to love. And as I listened to the conversation that ensued, I saw again and again – that as they made their own choice to follow Jesus, to approach the holy, to find meaning through this Christian way of life, that a main tenant for all of them was that as they nurtured their own journey through the teachings of Jesus, they were also committed to honoring and respecting the journey of others along the way.