Why Am I A Christian?
After a long conversation with an atheistic friend, he turned to me and asked–with great gentleness and compassion–“so why are you a Christian?”
It seems that after the conversation he was unable to see how anything I was saying (and let me be clear, this was not an evangelistic conversation) needed a “god” figure to underwrite it. To him, it was just perfectly clear and obvious that it was better to love others; better to give than to take; better to pursue peace; better to pursue healthy relationships with others. It was just better, he didn’t need “god” to prove and command that they were better–they just were.
This raised an interesting puzzle for me. Now, obviously not every person is as amazing as my friend, and would, if given the chance throw off the consequential weight that “god” brings to relationships. But I had to stop and ask myself- “Why am I a Christian? Especially when Christians are so often opposed to the things I am for?” I admit, I was stumped.
And maybe I still am. Or would be, if I wasn’t thoroughly convinced of the reality of sin. I see sin–that is, destructive acts and relationships–everywhere I turned. Especially in my own life. And I recognize that there is no way for me to stop sinning or being a part of systematic sinfulness in the society I live in. And so I still need a savior. Not to let me keep on being a part of that sinful system while white washing the tomb of my participation, but by offering me a way out of that system and into life for not only myself but for others also.
I am a Christian because I still need a savior. I know that sounds trite and perhaps does not satisfy anyone. But it is simply the truth. I still need someone to reach in and pull me out of the mess of evil I create and perpetuate. We can get into all sorts of debate about ontological reasons for sin or good or evil or God, but that is not my purpose here.
I am a Christian because I still need a community of people that are committed to the same restoration and healing that I am. But what’s strange about that is that community is not always found in Christian circles. This of course causes me to question whether my commitment is to Christianity or to something else. But it also causes me to question whether or not the way we define “Christianity” as a collective whole is also not actually a commitment to Christ, but to something else. Maybe God’s plan for the world is much bigger than distinguishing between who is “in” and who is “out.” I don’t know. But I hope. And the reality is, I am a Christian, because I am committed to following Jesus, who is my savior and the source of my community.
Good conversations you're in, Nathan.
You might want to check out Ryan Bell's blog on his "year without God" in which he's explored an intentional year living as an athiest, having come to it as a pastor. He's looking at a lot of the same questions.
Thanks Matt! I've checked out his blog a bit in the past, but haven't lately. I'll check it!