Why I’m A Christian

                This is neither an apologetic nor an air tight philosophical argument as to why people should become Christians. As a matter of fact many people reading maybe disenchanted by the basis for my belief or even disgusted by my lack of a rigorous intellect defense. Forgive this grievance and if it weakens your commitment and trust in God and learning to live like Jesus disregard it. I have set out to write this for the purpose of clarity in my own mind. I’ve decided to post it in hopes of helping other who struggle in their journey with Jesus.

I will begin by defining what I mean by “being a Christian”. At its most basic level I see this phrase to mean individuals who trust and are committed to Jesus Christ as described in Bible. By trusting and being committed I mean those who continually seek to reorient and live their lives more and more like Jesus. I have kept my definition intentionally vague since I will not be parsing out its implications in this article.

cross-question  So why am I a Christian? Is it because I was raised semi-churched and therefore it’s a result of my parents belief or social conditioning? Is it because I was overwhelmed by the amount of evidence in support of the truth claims of Christianity? Was it simply the elements of a church community that caused me to “stick with it”? Or was it because of deep emotional trauma that resulted in Christianity becoming my crutch to get through those experiences?

These were difficult questions to answer. I felt like saying “yes” to all of them and yet even that is an incorrect answer. Early on in my childhood I was exposed to hymns and had the opportunity to be an acolyte in the Lutheran Church. As boring as it may sound to some these were magical times for me. I really enjoyed singing hymns with the congregation and pondering the things of God. I was still quite afraid of Him because I didn’t really know Him but I had a deep reverence and respect for what I did know. For this I am indebted to my Father and the church community who instilled it in me. Yet I don’t think I said “yes” to following Jesus at this stage in my life because as my parents separated and we drifted away from being involved in church so did my desire for the things of God. He still inspired wonder and awe but I viewed Him distant from me, almost deistically.

In my teen and college years I still identified myself as a Christian given my family heritage and found it utterly mind blowing that there were people who didn’t believe in God or think about Him like I did. As the questions kept rolling in I found myself falling into despair because I couldn’t answer or respond to them in a reasonable or intelligent fashion. In a way it was as if a deep part of my cherished childhood was eroding and being destroyed. I wanted to believe but found myself less and less able to do so until God become merely a nice idea in my mind. Something people who haven’t thought very much believe until they learn better. Enter Christian apologetics into my life. Individual’s like J.P. Moreland, C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel were instrumental in helping me believe that critically thinking people can actually believe in God.  These and many other men helped to undergird my belief in God and respond to some of the internal objections that had been steadily growing within my heart and mind.

About this same time I met with a Pastor who would later become a good friend and mentor. We talked for hours about Christianity and I was able to get involved in a church community. It was during this time that I believe I said “yes” to trusting and committing to Christ for the rest of my life. I later met my wife at that church and we become very involved in the ministry and community there. It was a good time of working together with others toward a common goal (making disciples of Jesus) and enjoying relationships with those who held similar beliefs. We laughed together, we cried together and we grew together.

Parched earth   Intertwined in my story are two deep pains that I have failed to mention. For good and for bad these pains have shaped much of my life and continue to do so today. The first is when my parents got divorced when I was ten. I was completely oblivious to any problems and when the reality of the situation sunk it was as though I was free falling with no parachute. My personality changed from lively and outgoing to anti-social and reserved. I found myself desiring to be alone more and would have difficulty connecting with my peers. Seemingly paradoxically my second deep pain would force me to counter balance much of this. This come about as my Father was diagnosed with bladder cancer. I would leave my job to help him complete his projects (he was an Architect) and later take care of him while he was in hospice care up until the time of his death about a year later. This was a brutal time in a variety of different ways. I was twenty at the time and seeing the man you have looked up for your entire life wither before you and die is something I wish upon no one. It also forced me to go light years beyond my comfort zone socially to complete his projects by interacting with a variety of clients, engineers and other personnel because I was the only one who could complete the work for my Father. Both of these pains caused a lasting impact on my heart and soul that caused me to wonder “what is wrong with the world”.

The answer to that question is the most powerful reason why I am a Christian. Because the undeniable reality, whatever you believe, is that there is something fundamentally wrong with the world. Every religion or philosophical system has a reason and a solution.  I came to this see early on in life. I also found out that I didn’t have the power nor the ability to change myself into the kind of person that I thought would make the world a better place. The problem with the world isn’t that we aren’t smart enough. Nor is it a disproportion of resources between peoples and societies. People are what is fundamentally wrong with the world, starting with me. Other religions (Christianity included) have identified this as the heart of the issue for thousands of years but where they failed for me was in positing a solution. Other religions see peoples actions as the means to fix the problem. But how can a blind doctor bring sight to blind patient when neither can see?  This is where Jesus came in for me. No other religion or philosophical system has Jesus as the solution to the world’s problems. I saw and believed that only He was and is able to ultimately rescue humanity from itself. Being God only He was able to show us how to live. Only He was able to pay the price that would free us from the guilt and shame of doing things we know are wrong. Only Jesus could heal and transform us from the inside out so that we live on this earth how God intended.

Why am I a Christian? Because Jesus was the hero that I needed and the only person I saw worthy of modeling a life after. Through Him I have been able to know and experience God on a level that I never thought was possible. I have known wonder, awe, love, healing and character transformation in a way that is nothing short of miraculous. Jesus is the ultimate hero to those who realize that this world is broken and in desperate need of restoration.

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Those ideas and the philosophy that undergird them are the building blocks for my trust and commitment to Christ. However in all relationships there are circumstances and events where the “rubber meets the road”. Where a person shows what their character is really like. There is no exception in my journey with God.  As I read the apologetic and theology books and sat through studies and sermons there came multiple occasions where God had to “show up”. He needed to show me that He was actually the kind of God he said he was in the Bible. Was He able to deliver on His promises or was all of this really wishful thinking after all? Did He always show up in ways and at the times I desired? Certainly not. But He did answer prayers, show me things about myself and literally change aspects of my character in ways that I didn’t think were possible. These “God moments” were and are instrumental in my ever growing trust and commitment to Jesus. Without them there would be no relationship and I don’t think I could be a Christian.

Is this an air tight argument for justified true belief? No, but it doesn’t need to be because no belief system is air tight. There are good (and important) arguments for and against the claims of Christianity. The important thing is that you study and wrestle with those areas that you struggle (believe me Christianity has been around for a while, you probably aren’t the first to raise the issue).  Is this merely an emotional crutch? Not anymore than any other belief system (including atheism). All human beings hunger for a greater existential narrative than themselves; I simply find those apart from the Kingship of Jesus to be impotent to satisfy my soul. Is it only a natural response from my upbringing or social interaction within the church? This seems unlikely given many who leave the church upon reaching a certain age or when communal connection points dissolve. To summarize the reason for my trust and commitment to Christ I’d like to quote the late Dallas Willard (a philosophy Professor at USC) when he was asked the same question. He responded with something to the effect of, “Who else did you have in mind?” Like Willard I see none greater than the biblical Jesus. For through Him and by Him I am made fully alive and empowered to be an agent of change to bring healing to this broken world.

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~ by simplesage on November 27, 2013.

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