Ways of Believing

Fr Simon Holden C.R.  late brother of the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield sets out (rather wonderfully) what we believe… 

'Who, surveying the whole scheme of things, is so childish as not to believe that there is divinity in everything, clothed in it, embracing it, residing in it? For everything that is depends on Him who is'.

Gregory of Nyssa


Have you ever felt that you are surrounded by all kinds of pressures?  Some of them from what the Government says, some from other people's ideas, and some come from those who want us to spend money and buy something.

All these influences attempt to tell us how to think and how to live our lives. Because of this you might feel caught in a net of conflicting powers focused on you, and treating you as just one of the crowd to be manipulated.

If we want to preserve a sense of personal worth and human dignity, we have to struggle against all these pressures. This is greatly helped if we have a confident and lively sense of the meaning and the purpose of being ourselves.

The Christian Gospel has an urgent and essential message concerning the significance of each individual human being, and supports us as we stand up to all the demands made upon us today. 

For this message to help us we need to understand what it says in language that speaks to our own experience and makes sense of what lies in our hearts and minds. This is an attempt to make this possible.

'Understanding there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of these is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying to me. I am a foreigner to the speaker and he is a foreigner to me'.

1 Cor. 14: 10-11 

(New International Version)


From time to time all of us ask questions like; "What is life all about?" "What is the purpose of my own life on this planet?"

Today we are surrounded by people of different faiths. What the people of these faiths believe, and what they do in their lives, is their response to these questions.

It is the same for Christians. What we believe is not a list of definitions and ideas that we are supposed to accept, it is simply about who we are and why we are here. We believe, not in order to know something, but to be someone.

We can find creeds difficult to understand, but at the heart of it all there is an answer to our search for meaning in our life, and a purpose for our personal part in the world we live in.

'I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life'.

John 6: 47 (NIV)

'I had come with a sense of anxiety; how can I rationally find a way where ultimate meaning lies, a way of living where one could never miss a reference to supreme significance? Why am I here at all, and what is my purpose?'

Michael Chester 

(Divine Pathos and Human Being)


The questions about who we are and why we are here leads on to another question; "Where do we come from?"

The Christian belief is that we come from God, and each of us is made to reflect the very nature of God himself. In Biblical language this is expressed as 'being made in the image of God'.

Every human being is created to be a unique expression of the God who made us.  Each of us can trace our origins to our parents and forebears.

Yet there lies, at the heart of who we are, a unique gift which is ultimately traced to God, who is the source of everything in the universe.

Amazingly today, science tells us that we are all made from 'stardust', yet the origins of the galaxies and all the stars and planets is a mystery that lies beyond everything.

'So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them'.

Genesis 1: 27 (NIV)


Describing God in human language is fraught with difficulties.

Inevitably we are bound to use words and ideas that come from our everyday human experience - we have no other way.

On the one hand, it is fine to do this - we refer to God as Father, rock and light, for example - yet it remains a truth that God, by God’s very nature, is beyond our use of language. We know our efforts fall short of the reality but we are bound to do the best we can with the tools we have, recognising that our words are inadequate.

Countless people, having reflected on God, believe that God is love. This is not the same as saying "God loves", but that God is the origin and author of what love is; God IS love.

It is the Christian belief that this love is unstoppable and unconditional.

'God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him'.

1 John 4: 16 (NIV)

Made in God's image

You and I are created by God. If we are made in God’s image then we are meant to be like Gog. In other words, we are meant to love in the same unstoppable and unconditional way that God loves.

This is not just a duty or a commandment; it is the meaning of who we are. We may have many gifts and talents, but the one characteristic we all have, that defines us as human beings, is that we are intended to love as God loves.

Each one of us is meant to be a reflection of God in the circumstances in which we are placed, whatever these may be.

'Thus the commandment "love your neighbour as yourself" calls upon us to love what God loves as He loves, in an unconditional act of sympathy, regardless of the merits of the beloved'.

Michael Chester 

(Divine Pathos and Human Being, p169)

'To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is

the reason for my existence, for God is Love'

Thomas Merton 

(Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p68)


We all know how difficult it is to love in this unstoppable and unconditional way. We find ourselves in all kinds of situations that either damage or inhibit our abilities to love. We can become afraid to love; imprisoned in defences to protect ourselves from being hurt - so our love becomes limited and conditional.

Sometimes we not only defend ourselves, we act aggressively or hurtfully towards other people. A times we try to control them, lest they control us.

In addition to all of this, we are somehow born into an environment of intense competition, where the emphasis is on self and not on loving others. All these experiences are what Christians believe to be areas of sin. 

We are created by God to be free, but sin imprisons us, and stops us loving – stops us being our true selves. We need to be liberated from sin, so that we can love as God loves.

'So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?'

Romans 7: 21-24 (NIV)

Jesus the true image of God

Christians believe that God has given to us a true and perfect image of Godself in Jesus of Nazareth; born of a human mother, Mary. In Jesus we see what we are meant to be like; he is the divine pattern of who we are.  

Contemplating the life and death of Jesus we can experience shock at the full impact of it. If we see in Jesus what it means to be fully human, we also see what that cost him.

Reflecting on his life we see the unstoppable and unconditional love of God. In his death we see the demands that were made upon him. This reveals to us the price that is asked of us to be like God.

'He is the image of the invisible God ... In Him all things hold together’.

Colossians 1: 15/17 (NIV)

Jesus overcomes Sin and Death 

During his life, from the time of the temptation in the desert up to his death on the cross, Jesus knew what it was like to face the struggle that we experience. He met all the threats that we meet in our attempts to be who we are really meant to be.

Jesus encountered the powers that seek to imprison us and inhibit our loving. He fought against all that bites into our freedom. This is what it means to say that Jesus conquered sin.  He won the victory over all that weakens our capacity to be truly human.

At the end, on the cross, he contended with our two greatest enemies; sin and death. What we see is that nothing could stop him loving us forever, and we see that nothing could stop him living forever. Sin and death were finally powerless.

What is the connection between all this and us? Jesus shares all his experience with us. When we feel we are being defeated in our efforts to resist sin, we turn to him and are healed of our battle wounds and forgiven our sins. When we are afraid of dying and death, we know that nothing can stop us living.

‘She will give birth to a Son and you are to give him the name

Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’.

Matthew 1: 21 (NIV)

'To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is Love'.

Thomas Merton

 (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander , p68)

Jesus rises from the Dead 

On Easter morning Jesus showed himself to his followers; as not only alive, but also still loving in the way God loves. The Risen Jesus announces that we are released from the enemies; sin and death, which threaten to take our freedom away from us.

One of the meanings of Salvation is expressed in Hebrew as 'to be sprung from a trap'. Because of Jesus we are free to love and live, whatever struggles we have to face.

Christians believe that to remain free and undefeated we need to be in touch with Jesus. It is through prayer and Holy Communion that we make our own the liberation Jesus won for us.

'If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection'.

Romans 6: 5 (NIV)

'In my anguish I cried to the Lord and He answered by setting me free'.

Psalms 118: 5 (NIV)

Our Salvation

Because of Jesus we know that we are free to be the persons that God meant us to be. Our enemies of sin and death can no longer hold us back from living life to the full, whatever our circumstances might be.

Jesus not only promises us that this is so; he is the very source, the grace that enables us to embrace this gift of freedom.

By prayer, communion and faithful discipleship, because of Jesus, we can truly be God's children, living in His image and likeness.

Because we are free to love, knowing that the obstacles to that love have been overcome by Jesus, then the effect of this freedom

will change every aspect of our lives. It will transform the world around us and set other people free.

'You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across

their shoulders; the rod of their oppressor'.

Isaiah 9: 4 (NIV)

The Church

The church is not a collection of people who are good, but people who have known the forgiveness of their sins; the freedom from what prevents them from being fully human.  By their love for others, Christians can change the world in which they live.

The church is believed to be, through God's Holy Spirit, the continued presence of Jesus. It radiates his life and teaching to everyone. It is not a kind of club for the benefit of its members, it is meant to be the promise of love and freedom to all humankind.

This is the urgent and essential Good News for our world today; "the Glory of God is a living human being" (St. Irenaeus).

'They devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching and to the fellowship of the breaking of bread and to prayer'.

Acts 2: 42 (NIV)

'As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world'.

John 17: 18 (NIV)

Life after Death

Most of us must have, at some time, wondered about what happens, if anything, to us after we die. If death is not the end or us, what are we to expect beyond death? To some extent, of course, the answer to this question affects the way we live.

Christians believe that we are created by God, to live forever, and that the life we experience here is but a beginning or part of the whole story.

Because we are made in God's image, we are meant, like God, to live

and love for always. Death cannot destroy this potential in us, and the Resurrection of Jesus, Christians believe, assures us of this.

First, it does not take much imagination to realise that immediately after our death, there will need to be some kind of introduction, or preparation, for the next stage of our journey. In God’s great love for us God will attune us for what is to come.

This transformation will embrace a truthful reflection on, and responsibility for, the way we have lived our lives.

We are destined to live in the presence of God, both loving and being loved. This new life will be shared with those we love and all who love God.

We have a foretaste of this communion of love in the Eucharist. Heaven and earth meet each time we break bread and drink from the cup. That is why this celebration is called Holy Communion.

'We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that

God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him ... and so we will be with the Lord forever'.

1 Thessalonians 4: 14/17 (NIV)

'Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am known'.

1 Corinthians 13: 12 (NIV)

Almighty God, who wonderfully created

us in your image and yet more wonderfully

restored us in your Son, Jesus Christ,

grant that as he came to share our human

nature, so we may be partakers of his

divine glory.

Who lives and reigns with you, and the

Holy Spirit, One God now and forever.