This is a book about the relevance of Jesus for the modern person.
This is also a book about happiness.
This is a book about the availability of Jesus to be the foundation and framework for a truly happy life. This is a book about what Jesus did and what he said through his Parables and the confidence this can give us through all the times of our life – both good and bad.
This is a book about the real Jesus and his teachings, not the Jesus we’ve re-created at various points in history. It’s the real Jesus that gives us happiness and peace and confidence about living in the kingdom now. We can live a truly well and joyful life as we learn about and live into an understanding of Jesus’ message which first came to us 2,000 years ago and which continues to be written every day.
This isn’t a book about organized religion and the differences among churches, church services, and faith traditions. This is a book about the origin of it all – Jesus the Christ.
Jesus was here on earth and he taught us wisdom and heart truth that surpasses all of our human ability to comprehend the great mysteries of why we’re here, what we should do, and what happens to us when we die. Jesus gives us the answers and assures us of life always. In Jesus’ teachings called Parables, he gives us wisdom lessons through stories that we can relate to. He says we accomplish much by keeping to the narrow path. He says all is revealed in its fruit. He says we shouldn’t hide our light from the world. He says the smallest seed can become a mighty tree. He says we can persevere. He says happiness is found in love. The lessons are as relevant today as they were 2,000 years ago.
Religion – or theology – is about our beliefs in God, the meaning of life, and things to come. Religion is about why we’re here and what the point of this life is. It’s about belief in some organizing force, creator, or universal truth. We all suffer at points and we all encounter joyful times at points. We all seek a foundation – something to hold onto that helps us make it through. Even if we don’t actively seek to understand God or life or why all of this is, there’s nonetheless something in everyone that yearns to know or to understand a reason bigger than ourselves. Eternity is written on our hearts. We all wonder about it. We’re all looking for some way of understanding things and something to hang onto when the going gets tough. And the going does get tough for all of us.
The life example and teachings of Jesus can be something to anchor to so we don’t needlessly and endlessly bash around the seas without direction or protection. Knowing what Jesus told us helps us understand the point of it all and helps us become joyful co-creators of great things. Jesus’ message brings happiness for every today and an optimistic attitude about the future because we know positive things are here to stay. Jesus, having been here, tells us how to successfully be here and the truth of our creator and our creation.
Faith – which we hear so much about – is a strong belief that certain things are true. While some of the finer details of what we know about Jesus require faith, we nonetheless have many historical sources that prove Jesus was really here and really real. So, we know some things and we have faith in others.
For our journey of understanding, faith is followed by hope. Hope is the next step. Hope is an active embrace of faith. Hope is the filling of our heart with a joy that surpasses all understanding. Hope is a knowing smile that leads to the actions we take every day with our confident and sure hearts. Hope lets us live in certainty that what God has promised will in fact come true. Because I hope, I can’t help but confidently and happily live my life of service to this creation.
Faith is a noun. Hope is both a noun and a verb. I have hope and I hope. When hope becomes and remains a verb, we can overcome any challenge and we can live in lasting happiness. I Corinthians 13:13 tells us: “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” The love described is agape: selfless spiritual love which wills good for others. Faith is the first strong belief. Hope becomes our action. Love is the result. Love is God. This is where happiness lies. From Jesus, we received great teachings in the form of the Parables. In these timeless stories, wisdom lives.
No matter who we are, what we do, what we accomplish, where we visit, who we associate with, no matter how many moments in the sun we have, we are all still in the human condition and, eventually, we address the mortality of a loved one, or our own mortality. Every day is a challenge for some of us as we try to understand what is and what has happened and why we are born who we are. We see enough news to know that not all of it is good news. Times will come when we tremble and ache. We can keep the news of Jesus firm in our hearts. When we know him, the reserve is always filling. The Parables remind us of a firm foundation.
We don’t need to know the Jesus of any particular church, faith, or tradition although the denominations available to us all have their own wonderful histories and beautiful styles. We want to know the simple, first, original Jesus who was here, told people a lot of helpful and sometimes mysterious things, and passed on ahead of us to (what we like to call) heaven.