I now have a bunch of people lined up to contribute to this “Why are you a Christian?” series. And the next up is my Dad, Graham. My Dad is a fantastic man, and I am so grateful to him and my Mum for raising me and supporting me for the last 25 years. My Dad worked in IT for 27 years, and is now a Minister in a Baptist Church. He’s just started his own blog (like son, like father!), and it can be found here.
This, then, is my Dad’s answer to “Why are you a Christian?”
Thinking about the question Dave posed I realised that the reasons which draw me to continue to follow Jesus Christ today are different from those which drew me to Him in the first place, so I thought I would share some of that journey.
The decision – based on the future
My parents were committed Christians and, from a very early age, I had been surrounded by Bible stories, prayer and church. Thinking about God and Jesus were part of my everyday life and this was something I was comfortable with. But when I was around ten years old I heard my grandfather preaching on the need for each of us to make a personal decision as to whether we were prepared to follow Jesus and to ask Him to deal with the problem of sin in our lives. He explained that this affected our final destiny – whether we would spend eternity with God or without Him. This really struck home and later that evening my mother, who had noticed that something was on my mind, talked with me and helped me commit my life to Jesus. It was a decision I have never regretted.
The questions – exploring the foundations
When I went away to university – studying Maths and Computer Science at Manchester – I had my first real encounter with people with very different views about life, the universe and everything. It was a time when I was challenged to consider the beliefs on which I had based my life and to see whether the things I had been brought up to believe were true. This happened in many discussions – both with Christians with many different views about various aspects of the Christian faith and those from other faith traditions or no faith at all.
I found that some of my peripheral beliefs were based on assumptions and tradition but became even more convinced that the core tenets of my faith were true and totally dependable. It was a time of growth and development and formation – and also the time I met my wife, but that’s another story!
The reality of life – experienced daily
But when I think about what being a Christian, what following Jesus, means to me today I am reminded of the words which Jesus spoke:
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b)
Living life as a Christian is really the only life I have ever known (my memories of my very early years are dim) but it is a life which enables me to live “to the full”. And this is where what I believe and what I experience come together.
If God is all-powerful, loving and kind; if God created everything and holds things together; if God has created humanity in His image and designed people to live in relationship with Him; if God is in the business of fixing the problems caused to His creation by our failures and sin; if God cared for us enough to send His Son to die a shameful and excruciating death to break down the barriers which keep us apart; if God offers to share in our lives through the good and the bad – then doing anything other than responding to Him in a positive way just doesn’t make sense to me.
(And for the record I believe that all the “if clauses” above are true!)
But it’s not just an intellectual assent that is important. Because throughout the journey I have been on I find these things to be real in my experience. I do know God’s love in my life, I experience His forgiveness for the things I do wrong, I am continually amazed by the sacrifice which Jesus was prepared to make for me, I experience fullness of life when living as God intended me to live. Not every day is the same – sometimes I don’t feel God as close as on others but, as Mel pointed out in an earlier post in this series, the reality of God and His love for us, doesn’t depend on how we are feeling or our circumstances. It depends on His character, His love, His faithfulness and they never change.
So from coming to an initial decision to follow Jesus based on big questions about “the future” (which I still believe are essential questions to address) I have come to a place where, for me, Christianity is the only way of life which makes intellectual sense and is experientially true.
As one of the early followers of Jesus asked Him:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68b–69)
Thank you for sharing this with us, Dad. If you have any comments or questions, I know he’d love to explore any of this further, so drop them below. And the whole list of contributions to this series can be found here.