The meaning of life can be found by those who come and follow

Jesus Christ has central place at the top of the tracery.
A gathering this Sunday proclaims an essential aspect of Christian faith Gabriel Chan writes.

"Come, follow me" — Jesus Christ.

There are more invitations to the meaning of life in our social media feeds than ever before. The steps to buy your dream home, meet your life partner, the body you’ve always wanted (and the diet or exercise you’ll need to get there) and the places you’ve yet to see, to name just a few.

More and more are recognising the empty promises in this algorithmically curated "you deserve this, to live" narrative.

We are realising it is possible to have all that the world has to offer, and yet still be searching for the meaning of life.

In response to a man who had everything, but was still lost and in need of the truth, Jesus gave the following invitation: "One thing you still lack.

Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me". Luke 18:22 (italics added).

This ancient invitation is as significant today, as when first spoken.

In the tradition of a first century Jewish rabbi, Jesus initiated His ministry by calling his disciples to "come, follow me."

Beginning with the apostles, many people were given the opportunity to become disciples of Jesus, including myself on my search for meaning.

Through the Gospels, we see stories of how this decision to re-orientatepeople’s lives around Jesus, opened up an opportunity to experience a deeply different world.

Jesus challenged them to a lifestyle of sacrificial love, walking in continual forgiveness (even praying for their enemies) and serving all people (regardless of race, creed or status). In the context of Jesus’ declaration of arrival of the kingdom of God, the early followers saw incredible things. These include what it was like for people to be healed from incurable sicknesses, for the outcast restored to community and even to see the dead raised to life.

Many of these disciples followed Jesus until they couldn’t. When Jesus himself died, publicly on a cross, the disciples did what we all would — they went into shock, grief, buried themselves in work, and even went into hiding. The dream was over for them. So why today do we even have the church?

Within a few short days, the disciples were confronted with something they needed a lot of convincing about. Jesus, was walking around, visiting with, eating with and speaking with his followers. Physically.

Doubting Thomas said what we would all think. Impossible. Until he saw the resurrected Jesus for himself.

Jesus’ resurrection defines, and is unique in forming, every Christian’s worldview (Read 1 Corinthians 15 if you’d like to understand how significant this is).

It is the moment when God the Father reveals His restorative power in the fullest sense. That we as humanity can be made new, and restored in our relationship with God.

The ongoing life of the teachings of Jesus, which sit in the foundations of our culture today (however much we declare ourselves to be post-Christian) continue because of the resurrection.

The early disciples found hope in the resurrection — they could endure the greatest hardships, deprivation, isolation, even martyrdom, knowing that death was no longer the end. The reality of Jesus being raised, opens the door to believing in life after death, for all who believe in him.

While a short whistle-stop tour through some of the key elements of the Christian faith, this teaching has profound meaning for us today, particularly in the areas where we wrestle with God. When we face sickness and disease, and their implications, it’s not the end.

When we experience the pain of loss and injustice in this life, it’s not the end.

When we long for a world restored from the mess we’ve made so far, it’s not the end.

When humanity seems intent on ripping itself apart, it’s not the end.

When we ask why we should give up pursuing all the riches this life has to offer? It’s because this life is not all there is.

There is a perfect life that we all long to experience, and our greatest meaning is found in relationship with God Himself, through the risen Lord Jesus.

This Sunday, churches from across Otepoti Dunedin are gathering together in the town hall at 5pm, to hold the "Resurrection Service".

Sure, the name does sound strange.

A prominent professor in the history of this city once declared that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. The Combined Dunedin Churches first gathered in 2008 to re-proclaim that which is essential to our faith — that Jesus rose from the dead, and is sitting at the right hand of his Father on high, ready to one day come back and make everything new.

You are welcome to join us, and discover the meaning of life.

 Rev Gabriel Chan is senior leader of the Elim Church Dunedin, and chairman of the Combined Dunedin Churches group.