Mar 072014

Why Christian thumbI’m really pleased that the second instalment in my “Why are you a Christian?” project is from none other than my wonderful wife Mel. We’ve been married for three and a half years now, and she is my second greatest inspiration (after Jesus). Her fantastic blog can be found here.

Here, then, is Mel’s answer to the question, “Why are you a Christian?”

mel why

I became a Christian over many years. It was not a simple process, not an immediate, one-off realisation. Coming to faith has been a journey fraught with questions, interwoven with the ups and downs of my life. So this is a difficult question to answer. Where to begin?

Because God reached out to me

I first encountered God in an experiential way. God reached out to me. My first few years on the journey of coming to faith were overwhelmingly full of the emotional experience of God as love. And I needed this. I came to know him as a personal being who cared for me and loved me fiercely, at a time when I felt worthless, unloved and unlovable. Circumstances of illness and hardship remained the same but the emotional closeness I felt with this loving and intimate God kept me hooked and sustained me. Personal experience of God’s love was how I first became a Christian.

Because it makes sense

An emotional experience of God is not enough. Because it inevitably runs dry. What happens when you stop feeling the love of God? When God does not take away your pain and answer your every emotional need?

God is not a slot machine, dispensing emotional highs and fulfilling our every demand to feel him present. He never promises to be. I learned this the hard way. I was under the misconception that I would always experience God’s presence with this emotional intimacy. When I didn’t, I doubted him, his existence, and his goodness. My emotions were my master.

It was then that I came to really understand God in a more holistic way. I came to understand God as the light by which everything was illuminated. As the premise I had to accept for everything else to make any sense.

God was the best explanation of the way the world worked to me.

It didn’t matter whether I felt it, what circumstances were like, what people said or thought. I had relentlessly questioned everything, and long lost the illusion that objective certain proof was possible. I realised that for me, it is a matter of plausibility and probability. And God is the most plausible explanation of the evidence for the experience of life taken as a whole. I believe the explanation is true.

As C.S. Lewis famously said,

“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.”

I believe in God and the gospel because I believe that it makes the most sense of life.

Fundamentally, I am a Christian because I believe Christianity is true.

Because I just can’t quit Jesus

Now I come to the most important reason why I am a Christian.

In my 7 years as a Christian I have heard, seen and experienced some atrocious and amazing things. I have seen acts of heart-rending cruelty and feats of heart-rending kindness. I have stood in churches where God seemed so palpably present that the kingdom of God seemed about to explode. I have felt suffocated by stale and irrelevant church subcultures frozen in time. I have raged at Christian bigots and oppressors of the vulnerable and the marginalised. I have heard philosophies and theologies from all sides, and wrestled with questions about people and God and life that never seem to fully go away. I have heard and said prayers of gratitude at the faithfulness of God at work, and prayers of anger and desperation in dark moments where hope seemed lost.

There have been many, many moments when I have wondered why I am still a Christian. Times when I have felt abandoned by God and burned by people and the church. I have sat reeling at the prospect that this is the best that Christians can do. I have wondered where God is in this chaos that we call Christianity, and what to do in the face of a silent God.

There have been some very real times when I have wondered whether I should give up on my faith.

But every time, it has come back to Jesus.

You see, I just can’t shake him.

I have so many questions. Sometimes I feel like my questions overwhelm me and my faith is suffocating. I have so many doubts when it comes to God, theology, the church, and life.

But Jesus – he’s the one I just can’t quit.

The truth is, I love Jesus, and that is why I am a Christian.

To me, Jesus is the great revolutionary. He changes everything. He gives me a chance at a new life. He gives me a reason to get up in the morning. He gives me an example to follow. As he set me free, following him drives me to set other people free. Free from loneliness and pain. Free from injustice and oppression. Free from the burdens that life puts on us all.

Jesus didn’t just save me – he inspires me. Jesus is the answer to the question of why life is hard and the world is broken, why people are at odds with themselves, each other and nature. He is the answer to everything.

I just can’t quit Jesus, because I know that if everyone was more like him, there would be an end to suffering and injustice. If everyone followed Jesus, radical love would reign. The world would genuinely be better. It would be the way that it was intended to be.

I believe that Jesus is the great revolutionary, and my life is part of his revolution. This is why I am still a Christian today.

Thank you for writing this Mel – I love you! If anyone has any comments or thoughts, or questions for Mel, drop them in the comment box below.

If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. Also, you can to receive all future posts by email. Thanks for reading!