My next instalment in the “Why are you a Christian?” series is from my friend James. I owe a lot to James. He used to be my youth leader and has had a profound impact on my life. He was trying to teach me about Jesus, and he did that plenty. But on top of that, without trying he taught me to speak in public and without knowing he taught me to pray. He’s a legend!
This is his answer to my question, “Why are you a Christian?”
Why am I a Christian?
Ok, that’s a bit of a cheat, that’s more of an answer to the question “Why are you still a Christian”. Originally I was a Christian because of the sense of love and adventure that I heard came from following Jesus. Even before that, it was because my family took me to Church, though on my part it was a slightly frustrated “can we go home now and watch Batman” kind of way. I missed out on a lot of Children’s Sunday Morning Telly.
It was hearing from people who considered God to be active now, and that he was interested in me that pulled me into making faith my own. I was supported by an excellent local youth group.
So why do I say habit?
Even if you are not a Christian I guess that you have read Dave’s blog (among other things) and it is clear that Christianity is not a smooth road. (Or maybe it is a smooth road but the vehicles we are travelling in are not in the best repair?)
I had a period where not only did God seem to be silent, but the activities of the church looked to be outright harmful. I couldn’t see God at work anywhere, and faith just seemed to be making life hard for people. I was re-evaluating all my experience up to that point, and re-evaluating it downwards. My only act of worship was to drag my grouchy miserable carcass along to a Church on Sundays. The songs tasted of ash, the preaching was clear but meaningless. The people were nice, but it’s not like I don’t know nice people who don’t know Jesus. (Double negative followed by a negative. Take that grammar!) I struggled to see why anyone would want to be a Christian.
It was Habit that kept me “in.” It was so ingrained that Church on Sunday is what I did, I couldn’t not go. And I hit a point where it felt that all I had left was habit. But it slowly dawned on me that habit could be good in itself. Not just the attending church, but other behaviours I had picked up on the way and that I still practiced because they were habits. These habits impacted how I treated others, even if the emotion was not always totally there.
Habit kept me in a place where I could start to hear (faintly) God speaking again. Habit eventually took me to a place where I could begin to see again why someone might want be Jesus’ Disciple. And habit kept me returning to a place where I could (even faintly) hear from the one who preached such incredible outrageous things like “Love Your Enemy”. Without the habits, I probably would have just wandered off.
“Love Your Enemy”? That’s nuts. I want to know a God who not only taught that, but lived it as well.
Ok, so why am I a Christian? Love. Why am I still a Christian? Love. And Habit. And Jesus.
Brilliant stuff! Thank you James for writing this. If you have any questions for James, or thoughts on what he shared, drop them in the box below. I know he’ll want to see. If you want to see the rest of the answers I’ve had so far, check them out here.