I am a Christian. Why? What IS a Christian? Am I a narrow minded bigot for telling the world that Jesus is the only way to God? And what exactly does THAT mean? Why do we need a “way to God” anyway?
There are people who claim to not believe in a God at all. Am I in any way worried that they might be right? And then, of course, there are many people in this world who believe in God, gods, goddesses that are very, very different than the God Christianity is supposed to follow. Others simply say that faith itself is all that is need. After all, faith is it’s own object. Surely it doesn’t matter what you believe in – you simply have to believe!
And then, I’m also obviously anti science, because I’m not just a Christian – I actually take the Bible literally! I have to – I simply don’t have enough faith to believe in the alternative (in the beginning was nothing – which then exploded, and x-billion years later, via rock soup and monkeys – here we all are).
So – there’s my first point. It’s actually easier to define and accept God than it is to define and accept the concept of “nothing”. Try it one day!
Some will try and get round that problem by hypothesizing that prior to the “Big Bang” there wasn’t nothing after all. There was some sort of quantum energy field, or perhaps there was an eternity of universes before this one – a sort of cyclical crap-shoot of infinite meaninglessness. After all, if life is just random chance, and all we are is a bunch of chemicals that just so happened to bump into each other at exactly the right time (in millions of different, logical and irreducibly complex combinations) – then there is indeed no ultimate meaning. How can there be? I am a cosmic accident. Sorry about that.
Believing in God as the “beginning” is more logical than any of the alternatives.
What then? How can we possibly know enough about God to decide which of the myriad of confusing religious and spiritual traditions are correct? Perhaps none of them are, maybe we all need to find our own individual path and simply do the “best we can” to live a “good life”. Well let me get something out the way right now. If that is indeed the case, then I’m screwed. I KNOW that my best is not good enough. I’ve done things, thought things, said things, that make me unfit to be in the presence of any God worthy of the name “God”. Indeed – if God thought I was acceptable the way I am in and of myself – then sorry God – your standards aren’t high enough, and we’re back to living a meaningless, miserable existence that will end in disappointment. How BIG is your understanding of God? Is God perfect? And if He is – what does that mean for us?
Like I said – I’m screwed if it’s up to me to meet the standard laid down by a perfect God. Screwed. And so are you.
Religion as a rule is sadly based on works. Rules… you must… you mustn’t…. say that prayer at this time…. give 10% of your income to pay for the priest who tells you to give 10% of your income…. feed the poor…. but if they had enough faith they wouldn’t be poor anyway so you can just look the other way apart from at Thanksgiving and Christmas…. go to church every week (and don’t forget that 10% – of your GROSS income by the way you worm)…. …. ….
True Christianity is a RELATIONSHIP, not a RELIGION.
a) I believe in God because I don’t have enough faith to accept any of the alternatives, and
b) I believe in the Christian God because that frees me from a bunch of impossible and all too often man-made rules.
Sound good, yet?
Time to define “Christian”!
A Christian is someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. More technically, Wikipedia tells us that “the word comes from Greek Χριστιανός (christianos) which being translated means “follower of Christ.” It comes from Χριστός (christos) meaning “the anointed one”, with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership.
Woah! SLAVE OWNERSHIP? Back the truck up, buddy. That doesn’t sound so good, does it? “I am a Christian” SHOULD mean that “I am the devoted slave of Jesus Christ, and will follow Him even if it means DEATH”.
I am a Christian.
I would rather DIE than deny Christ. Yeah – easy enough to type on Facebook. And yeah – I do NOT want to ever have to put that statement to the test. But I DO mean it.
Wow, you mutter. The poor guy has been brainwashed…
To tell you the truth, I actually wish my brain was MORE washed than it is! I still think thoughts that bring dishonor to the name of Christ. I still fill my mind with garbage. I still fail to control my tongue and my actions and my emotions…. Yeah. I want to be washed MORE from the filth that fills this world.
Filth. Ahhhh – there’s a question that no-one can answer! If, then, there IS a perfect God who is – as Christians SHOULD believe – perfectly loving, perfectly holy, perfectly powerful, perfectly just, perfectly knowledgeable…. EXPLAIN THE FILTH AND EVIL AND POVERTY AND MISERY AND DEATH AND SUFFERING AND CRUELTY AND RAPE AND MURDER AND HORROR THAT OOZES FROM EVERY SICK CORNER OF THIS PLANET?
More than any other, this quandary is perhaps the one that keeps people away from the Christian faith.
The answer is simple.
God hasn’t abandoned humanity. Humanity abandoned God. God is the perfect Father, who gave His children the freedom to choose whether or not to follow His perfect path. God is not a puppet master, making us dance on a string. He watches and weeps as His children choose dark, rather than light. True love does not FORCE obedience. And, like in any human father/child relationship – disobedience brings consequences. A child reaps what it sows. Humanity is reaping what it has sown.
But wait. Here is reason number three that I am a Christian. Even amid the calamity of humanity – there is beauty. We have done our very best to ravage this planet – exploiting, polluting, burning and crushing…. yet there remains breathtaking beauty everywhere we look. EVEN IN THE VERY CENTER OF SUFFERING, THERE IS JOY. A dear, dear friend of mine nursed her sick husband for years. She watched him die – day by day. She did everything for him. He was helpless. A 90 year old baby. She cared for him to and beyond the point of exhaustion. He has passed now, and recently she shared with me a moment of absolute brokenness wrapped in pure joy. She was ready to quit. Give up. Stop caring. Physically, emotionally and spiritually spent. Yes, she had been a Christian for decades, and had a strong, simple faith that could move the mountain of my cold young heart with a simple smile and warm hug. But she was empty.
She heard a voice in her ear:
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
She picked herself up from the dirt, and carried on proving the truth of that verse.
The Apostle Paul was the first one to hear these words in his ear, and he recorded them for us in his second letter to the Christians in Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:9). They are the words of Jesus. He speaks to His children. He is REAL. He is ALIVE. He lived a perfect life, He gave that life for the world, and He defeated the power of physical AND spiritual death. His grace IS sufficient. His power IS made perfect in weakness.
You see, life is all about death. For thousands of years, humanity has mistreated and abused itself to the point where most of us need a cocktail of drugs to keep us breathing. Our once perfect race has fallen – our ultimate parents unplugged themselves from the power source of life, and since then – life has been all about death. Avoiding it for as long as possible is the goal. We all have a list of things we want to do before we die.
Get right with God.
You see, Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. But that relationship starts out broken. We are born SPIRITUALLY DEAD, and we spend our lives getting closer and closer to PHYSICAL death. There is only ONE way out of that dead end.
Jesus said, “I am THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life. No one comes to the Father except through ME”.
Some people say that Jesus was just a good man. A very good man. But of course, who seriously actually believes that Jesus was somehow God as well as a man? Nonsense. Well, to our human minds – yes. Nonsense. Thankfully though, God’s ways are higher than ours. His understanding is greater. I ask you again: How BIG is your understanding of God? Is He GOD or is he a god? Is He on your shelf and in a box, sitting patiently there until you pick him up, blow the dust off, and say a prayer for some money? OR IS HE THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE? IS HE BEYOND ALL UNDERSTANDING IN POWER, WISDOM AND LOVE? IS HE THE ONE WHO “MADE THE STARS ALSO”? IS HE THE ONE WHO CREATED TIME AND SEES THE END FROM THE BEGINNING?
Put away your limited view of who God is and what He is capable of. Jesus Christ was NOT just a very good man. How could He be? He claimed to be God. If that is not true, Jesus Christ was either a liar, or a lunatic. Good? Insane or evil, take your pick.
Jesus Christ is the absolute beginning and end of God’s perfect plan to fix the broken relationship between Himself and humanity. The entire Bible – from beginning to end – is the tracing out of that plan. Prophecy after prophecy – written hundreds and hundreds of years before Jesus was born – pointed towards Him in incredible, perfectly fulfilled detail.
Jesus was, is and always will be God, and as God he CHOSE to WILLINGLY give up the indescribable position He had and clothe himself in human flesh. God incarnate! Christmas! Emmanuel, God with us!
a) I believe in God because I don’t have enough faith to accept any of the alternatives, and
b) I believe in the Christian God because that frees me from a bunch of impossible and all too often man-made rules, and
c) I believe that the presence of beauty and joy amid the filth and suffering points to a God who IS love, and
d) I believe that Jesus Christ was everything He claimed to be, because of the proven historicity of the Bible and the fulfillment of the prophecies written in it, and
e) I am a slave of Jesus Christ because He gave His perfect life to save my wretched soul.
That is why I am a Christian.
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment, share with friends, ask questions, or simply go on with your life’s journey on the road to the future. What will that future bring for you?