I know too many people who question whether or not that what I believe is just faith or faith based on historical fact. I found a pretty good article on MSNBC entitled "From Jesus to Christ". It goes through different pieces of history that point out why faith that Christians have is very unique and, at the time in history, very contraversial and agains the grain of society.
...in this culturally divisive American moment, a time when believers feel besieged and skeptics think themselves surrounded, a reconstruction of Jesus' journey from Jewish prophet to Christian savior suggests that faith, like history, is nearly always more complicated than it seems.
Why is it hard to believe that Christ rose from the dead? Because it doesn't seem reasonable or even possible. I think that's the whole point. What faith is there in something that you can reason or prove beyond a shadow of a doubt? Why must I need faith in a loving God if I can understand or explain everything? The gospels were written by men who were there and saw it happen. I believe what they wrote because it is based on historical fact. The faith comes in when I believe that Christ rose from the dead. The apostles didn't believe it at first either. They didn't really understand what had happened. Mathew 28:16 even tells that some doubted.
From the beginning, critics of Christianity have dismissed the Resurrection as a theological invention. As a matter of history, however, scholars agree that the two oldest pieces of New Testament tradition speak to Jesus' rising from the dead. First, the tomb in which Jesus' corpse was placed after his execution was empty; if it were not, then Christianity's opponents could have produced his bones.
Then if they doubted or didn't understand, what would've brought them around to fulfilling the great commission? It would've been easier to just let it go and slip into the crowd. What would it take for you? Think about that for a moment. If someone told you that a man rose from the dead you wouldn't believe it for a second and neither would I. You would change your tune if he appeared to you after the fact..and so did the aposltes.
..the apostles had to arrive at their definition of his messianic mission somehow, and it is possible that Jesus may have spoken of these things during his lifetime—words that came flooding back to his followers once the shock of his resurrection had sunk in. On historical grounds, then, Christianity appears less a fable than a faith derived in part from oral or written traditions dating from the time of Jesus' ministry and that of his disciples.
...The uniqueness—one could say oddity, or implausibility—of the story of Jesus' resurrection argues that the tradition is more likely historical than theological.
Have you ever heard anyone say they are growing in their understanding of something? Programming in .NET, their marriage, raising children, etc.. The more you live it, learn it, understand it, the more you grow. We grow "in Christ" meaning that we learn more of His character, who He was on this earth, and who He is as the Savior of the world. How well do you know someone when you first meet them? You may get their name, find out if they are married or have any kids. Over time you will get to know them as a person. Who they are and what makes them tick on the inside. The same is with Christ. We read and study the bible that was inspired by God, and written by the men who experienced it. To know Christ you must "get to know him". You see?
...In writing the Gospels, and then in formulating church doctrine in the second, third and fourth centuries, Jesus' followers reacted to his failure to return by doing what they arguably did best, for by now they had a good bit of practice at it: they reinterpreted their theological views in light of their historical experience. If the kind of kingdom they had so long expected was not at hand, then Jesus' life, death and resurrection must have meant something different. The Christ they had looked for in the beginning was not the Christ they had come to know. His kingdom was not literally arriving, but he had, they came to believe, created something new: the church, the sacraments, the promise of salvation at the last day—whenever that might be. The shift of emphasis from the short to the long term was an essential achievement.
In an american society today where Christians are viewed as elitists or people who exclude others I would like for someone to look into the history of Christianity. Back when it was not cool or politically correct to believe that Jesus was God's son (sounds like today if you ask me). A time when Jesus was a radical and against the law.
...Stark argues that once the early church "decided not to require converts to observe the [Jewish] Law, they created a religion free of ethnicity," a religion attractive not only to Gentiles but to the Jews of the wider Roman world. Christians also benefited from their own charity work. In an age of plagues, they took care of the sick; the apostate Emperor Julian hated the "Galileans" and their "support not only [for] their poor, but ours as well."
The original radical where he preached love, understanding, and accpetance. God created us all in his image. Like with your own children, you love them no matter what. They may do things that we don't approve of or like but once they are born our children, forever they will be in our love.
...Everyone is created in God's image; there is, as Paul said, "neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus"; all are equal, special, worthy.
So in Christ we are equally special and worthy? That tells me that God has a plan for me (and you) and all we have to do is have faith. God Bless!