I was presented with this question recently: “Why are you a Christian?” "Why" is a hard question, but by thinking back on the other times I have been asked this or similar questions I am able to stop and realize the power behind the answer. A high school kid asked me this question this summer and later on another one got my answer without having to ask. He needed to hear it. I needed to give it. It worked out well for the both of us. I am coming to recognize that answering and sharing why it is I believe in the God of the Bible is both a necessity for my spiritual life and can have a great impact on the lives of the people around me. We need to know why we believe. We need to know both for our own benefit and the benefit of the people around us. If we do not actually understand why it is we believe in Jesus, why we believe in the resurrected Christ, then I have to wonder how honest our belief actually is.
The last time I was asked to respond to this question, here is what I wrote out:
I am a Christian because God has transformed me. I will not pretend that life is sunshine and rainbows because its not. In fact, that is the exact opposite of reality. Life is hard. Sometimes life is really hard and we do not have what it takes to make it through. We just don’t. We cannot do life on our own. It takes help. Help from the people around us, and help from those closest to us. Sometimes it even takes the help of a stranger. But what happens when all of that fails and we still find ourselves weak and floundering inside of the cruel and bitter fishbowl we seem to live in? We turn outside of ourselves and we attach ourselves to the things that give us meaning. Relationships become our everything. Drugs take us outside of our problems. Alcohol takes the edge off. We give ourselves to images and place our hope in our big glowing boxes…the picture sure is clear though. In our brokenness, we try to live a life that is “good enough,” yet ultimately still, these things that we form unhealthy attachments to end up failing. She breaks up with you. You overdose. DUI maybe? We end up retreating further and farther inside of ourselves only to discover that our own narcissism, vanity, and self-absorption has led us to a place of utter ruin.
Though we pretend and hope at times that he does not exist and that he has not seen any of this, he has. He has seen all of it. He knows what has gone on and his heart is broken for us. It is broken into pieces as small as the grains of sand on the shore. His heart is broken for us as much as we are broken. He sees this and has seen this and while we have found ourselves living in this mess, he has already extended his hand to us saying, “All of those things that failed you, everything that has let you down, they are nothing but rubbish. It is not in my character to let go of you. Take my hand and allow me to begin healing your wounds. I can help you to become who you were created to be, there is no other way.”
I am a Christian because Jesus found me at the bottom of a pit which I had dug for myself. I have sat at the apex of my own conceit, stubborn and refusing to move. I have stood, shovel in hand at the nadir of my own despair ready to keep digging. Still time and again I find when I have reached the end of myself, I look up and I see Jesus extending his hand to me, reminding me of his goodness, and his awesome power in my life. He has reached out his hand to me and I have said yes. I am a Christian because he has held true to his promise. He has transformed me. He is transforming me. He will continue to transform me. I am a Christian because Jesus is the only one capable of helping me to reach my fullest potential. He loves me that much. He loves us all that much.
It is by no means a perfect response. It is actually lacking in a lot of areas but I am confident that God uses even the most broken of people. He uses the imperfect to highlight the perfect that is all around us; the subtle workings of God in our every day life. If you were to ask me again tomorrow just why I am a Christian, I would hope to give a similar response.
We can never really know who is listening, or how impactful something we might share with someone may be. The important thing is that we share it.
C.S. Lewis wrote in his essay “Is Theology Poetry” a statement that has stuck with me. It has helped to shape my own feelings and beliefs and I cannot deny the truth of his words. He wrote: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
This is just one more aspect of the larger story of our life. Yet it is a very important one. Why are you a Christian? Or if you are not one, what is keeping you from Christ? "Why" is a hard question, but the answer is more powerful than we recognize.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. – 1 Peter 3:15