Studies of ancient civilizations show that religion is something that virtually all people, in all eras of history, and in all corners of the world, have in common. From the earliest times people have wondered about the meaning of life, how to make the best of it, is there life after death, and if there is anyone or anything "out there."
More than a third of the world's population now professes to be followers of Jesus and His apostles who founded the Christian religion some 2,000 years ago. This means that Christianity is the world's largest religion. It is totally unique from all other religions by answering the haunting theological questions that have perplexed human minds from the earliest civilizations. It has also given the world a literary masterpiece called, "the Bible," containing eyewitness accounts of the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ... Furthermore, the Christian religion celebrates the goodness of light and life more than any other religion on the planet.
The heart of Christianity is condensed in the words of Jesus to the Apostle Peter in Matthew 16:15-18. "- Who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."
A key question to answer is, what did Jesus mean by the word, "church?" In the original language of the Bible, church literally means, "a gathering of people." By this definition, a Christian church is not a building, a TV show, or a denomination. A Christian church is a gathering of people who worship God and His Son, Jesus. They also build relationships with fellow believers, and enthusiastically receive spiritual instruction and encouragement
By this definition we better understand the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:25-26, "- Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her." Jesus died to establish an society of people all over the world who believe and worship Him. They invariably form local assemblies which meet several times through the week for worship as specifically commanded by the New Testament.
Significantly, statistics show that Christians who faithfully attend church are happier, more optimistic, enjoy better health, live longer, and have more stable marriages and families. They also tend to be more prosperous. Thus, in addition to compelling theological reasons, these are practical reasons why so many people are being drawn to Christ.
We are living in times of incredibly complex issues, I believe God is speaking more loudly in the world about taking seriously, the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can start by firmly resolving to regularly attend and support a local Christian church.
Pastor Gene Holman of Living Word Fellowship in Gardnerville is a member of Carson Valley Ministers' Association.