10 Reasons I’m a Christian

photo © 2007 Sam Churchill , Flickr

I’m in a “top ten” sort of mood this final week of 2011.  Today, I share my top 10 reasons that I’m a Christian.  Now, I’m sure that if I sat back for another 10 hours and contemplated this subject on a deeper level, that the list would morph a bit.  However, if I were to list areas off the top of my head, they’d include…

10) I was born into a Christian family.

9) Youth group.  Mission trips, authentic faith exploration, fun games, great youth pastor, summer camps, and common experiences with teenage friends.  Youth group (along with going to a Christian high school) was huge.

8 ) People in the church (both family and friends) showed me love when I needed a helping hand as a lower class child.

7) Christianity is historically reasonable.

6) The movement of the church begins with and is for the marginalized of society… which is a movement worth being part of.

5) I am invited to become more fully human as God’s Spirit conforms my life to the “image” of Christ and believe that such an opportunity can transform any person in the world.

4) I’ve experienced Christian community.

3) The way of Jesus is others-focused.  It invites us on a journey that is exciting and hard.  I can try all my life and will never perfectly live out the Sermon on the Mount – but seeking the Jesus of the Sermon is a task worth taking on even if imperfectly.

2) God’s mission to redeem all of created reality is something that is worth giving our lives to – for the good of all people and the good of the world.  God’s restorative justice that will one day arrive at the union of heaven and earth (Romans 8.18-28, Revelation 21-22) can be reflected by the people of God in the present as we manifest the Kingdom by: loving each other, choosing patterns of living that are counter-cultural, giving selflessly to the poor, delivering people and systems from oppression, eating together, praying together, and serving together.

1) I’ve encountered the love of the Father of the crucified and raised Jesus Christ through a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit.  I may not be able to prove that God is real or that Jesus resurrected, but I can tell my story.  My experience is my apologetic.  I can’t convince people that God is real through an apologetic strategy but can only attest to  a knowledge based on agape from Abba.  As Paul says: “… to know a love that surpasses knowledge.”

What would your “top ten” list look like?

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  • 1. I am by no means a Calvinist, but I think it’s biblically supportable that I am a Christian because the Holy Spirit did something to draw me near to Him. (Same as your #1)
    2. Although it’s not fashionable these days to speak of eternal conscious torment, I have to say that fear of hell was a big player for me when I was 10 yrs old and committed myself to Christ.

    Not the entire top ten, but ….

  • Good list!  Here are my reasons:

    1. Initially I because a Christian after I had an intense experience at age seventeen.  In the midst of a bad depression spell, I felt the precess of God’s love.

    2. During the past couple of years I’ve moved from evangelicalism into a more progressive direction.  I still believe in the Creeds, but I no longer view the Bible as the inerrant Word of God.  That honor goes to Jesus, the Word-made flesh.

    3. Even when Christianity doesn’t make sense, Jesus’ words still give me hope.

  • Anonymous

    I like your list, Kurt.  Reasons 4 and 8-10 resonate with my growing up and college years (sans going to a Christian high school), but I feel a bit sad when I read and thought about reasons 6 and 3.  

    Certainly in my childhood church, and most of the time at my current church, there is little evidence that the movement of the church begins with and is for the marginalized of society.  That makes me sad especially because I’ve been struggling with being dissatisfied with our church experiences.  
    Also, I rarely hear that the Way of Jesus is others focused, and that is frustrating too.  I’m weary of the “this will make your life better” theme permeating our sermons and small groups. Growing up, it was sunday after sunday of altar calls, but never asked to serve our community.  My childhood church literally moved out of the city when the neighborhood got too rough.  My current church is so big that often it is just a pocket here or a group there working and focused on others.

    Long story short, your list intrigues me and makes me wonder and realize there is so much more to our faith than I’ve experienced thus far.  And I want to experience different.

  • Nice list.  I think the only defensible reason to be a Christian is your #1.  That is, other groups can fit the bill for most of the other reasons.  Maybe the chess club offered someone a place with acceptance, love, activity, etc.  
    Other reasons are self-focused.  They are about what-I-get-out-of-it.  But having an experience with the living God is life changing.  There is no argument from the outside against it other than that I was hallucinating.  It is utterly foolish.  It looks as ridiculous as any other existentialist defense for an ethical system.  Which it is.
    I tend rather to think about the reasons why someone would not become a Christian:
    1.  You have to adopt a peculiar ethic.  This means abstaining from things which are often fun and enjoyable.
    2. You have to live a life of sacrifice for others.
    3.  You have to love your enemies.
    4.  You have to pray for those that persecute you.
    5.  You have to admit your inability to satisfy your own deepest desires.
    6.  You have to face the living God.
    7.  You have to join a community of people who will betray, fail, disappoint, frustrate, anger, and annoy you.  And love them.
    8.  You have to abstain from using force and manipulation to get your way.
    9.  You have to become as a little child.
    10.  You have to believe that God became incarnate through a virgin birth, died, rose again, will return someday to judge, and has sent His holy Spirit to literally indwell you.
    I don’t see why anyone would choose willingly to adopt this set of requirements, unless of course, they have met and experienced God.
    That some Christians choose to deny some of the above requirements while giving as their reasons for being a Christian some of your other justifications spells out to me something simply worldly, a religion which could be called by any name at all.  What makes Christianity real, peculiar, and life changing are those elements which no one in their right mind would voluntarily accept.
    Nathanael Snow

    • I liked your comment, so quoted it on my blog… seems to have struck a sore spot with some of my Atheist friends though!

  • Tom

    God uses people to show us who he is.(4 & 8-10) Good stuff, all of it. God plants all kinds of seeds in our lives along the way. Glad you didn’t say, “because all that Christianity stuff I grew up with was a bunch of malarky and I didn’t become a ‘real’ Christian until I went to camp and went up to the altar call at the end of the week.” 

  • Number one reason that I am a Christian: When I was twelve years old, from a decidedly pagan family, I saw a Christian offer a sincere apology whereby they took responsibility for doing something wrong even though that thing made them popular with the crowd.  In other words, the guy said sorry for doing something that everybody thought was funny and cool for the mere reason that he was “convicted by the Holy Spirit”.  Through this, I encountered God.

  • I can relate to most of these, Kurt, except 10. And I think it’s a good exercise to remember and record (for our benefit and others’) all of the things that have contributed to us aligning ourselves with Christ along the way.

    I’ve recently written a similar (but quite a bit longer) post called, Why I believe: A throroughly unscientific approach.

  • Jacob Michael

    Just Travis Mamone’s reson #3: ”
    Even when Christianity doesn’t make sense, Jesus’ words still give me hope.” Yep, pretty much it for me.

  • Your #1 reason is so profound in its simplicity. Remain blessed!

  • Jordan Duerrstein

    Solid list.  I don’t think my list would differ very much from yours at all.  #1 is worded quite well.  #8 and 9 bring wonderful memories to mind, 7 satisfies some intellectual inquiry, and the rest give a lot of purpose.

  • list rings true and yet i am constantly amazed that any of us end up here as so little of what you list, especially #2 and #3 were so poorly modeled in so much of what must be considered “mainstream” christianity. i sometimes wonder that i managed to find Him at all… or perhaps he found me? 

  • Sherwood8028

    I really do not know who wrote this, I suspect, Kurt Williams, but then I see, he is a Pastor.  In cyber-space, we have a saying – OMG.    This is a Christian?   A Pastor?

    OK, let’s look at the evidence before us.   No. 1 reason he is a Christian, he claims, is because he knows a lot of the language we use to communicate with one another, but let us look at Jesus’ last words to His disciples as He left them.  “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses….” wherever your feet shall lead you, or – in other words, wherever you are at any time.

    I love the church.  Now in my 82nd year, 36th year as a believer – and witness of His power alive and active in my life, I weep for the church as it turns out far too many people not understanding Acts 1:8.   “My experience is my apologetics.”  Well, please say so.  Where were you when He turned the darkness in which you had been walking to the light of His glory and grace?  I had been in church for nearly 45 years and I was now alone and lost, without any support from the church and so, I asked God to explain a verse I had read in the Bible (Matthew 4:17) and to my amazement, He answered.  It took a couple of days to realize the full impact of what had been given to me, but with that response ringing in my ears, I started following the teachings of Jesus and He has led me along the paths of my life that have become an amazing adventure.   That is my number one reason I am a Christian.  He has become not only my advocate, but a close friend on whom I can constantly rely.

    Number two reason has nothing to do with God’s plan of redemption, it is the fact that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.  All of us, every one.  Looking for someone to convert, try opening a conversation with the next person you meet, or as I heard one fellow say, trying talking seriously with the one with whom you sleep every night.  Do they know the depth of your conviction that there are many ways to walk to walk through life, but only one that assures you that there is no valid reason to carry with you, the burden of the mistakes you have made, the fear that you may not be good enough for whatever it is you have sought to accomplish.  The world about us every day is hurting.  Avoiding pain is the number one pre-occupation of our society.  You have an answer to that and it does not require a pill or a platitude.

    Number three reason is that I have taken the Sermon on the Mount seriously as it applies to my life.  I am no longer looking at others, at the reasons they do not live up to the standards set in the Bible.  I have the experience of vicariously sitting on that hill side and taking in everything that he had to say; then, making application to my own life.  I love it when I see the looks on some faces when I tell them, I actually love my enemies and then add, even though I killed one at a Korean outposts decades ago.  I was lauded by my superiors, but I feel the way I do because I have been forgiven by One who changed my life, one hundred and eighty degrees.

    As for reason four, I have even been been forgiven by Him for attitudes I used to have about the church, singing praises to God on Sunday and leading an ungodly life the rest of the week.  I used to do that.  I used to laugh at others who did it as well, but now I know that any congregation will be made up of the people who live in this world, 23/7, and are subjected to all of the enticements as the heathens among us.  Community yes, on occasion, but the church is not the answer.  Church ought to be a way station for the lost who are looking for answers in the lives of the people sitting next to them on Sunday morning.

    Reason five baffles me.  I have no interest in being human, again.  Although this body appears to be human, take a look at the smile when I embrace an autistic child or give a ride to a person who has had a little too much to drink.  It is difficult to communicate with these folks, except through the Spirit of God alive and active in one’s life, 24/7.  It is a constant reminder that – …”you shall receive power.”

    Reason six concerns me.  It is not just the “marginalized” in society, it is the fact that society itself is marginalized.   There are many who want to claim that we were created to become a Christian nation, but I have read too much of our history to make any such claim.  We seem to have embraced the tactics of the mob, demanding this and that and showing little evidence that – as individuals, we are living the life we expect from others.  We are to be – the salt of the earth, where is the savor?

    Reason seven states we are to be historically relevant.  We won’t understand that until we have departed from this place.  We are to be relevant – carrying for and addressing the sins of society, but whether that is historically relevant will never be known – to us.

    Reason eight takes us back to the church.  OK, so it was good to others, is it good for everyone?  I vividly recall the day when there was a commotion in the anteroom and I walked out to discover the source.  It was our lead Deacon and several ushers banded together to deny admittance to four black couples seeking to join with their white “brothers and sisters” to worship God.   Oh yes, that was long ago, but it was only recently that I heard of some women of the church leaving because of the criticism the received for wearing slacks to Sunday morning “worship”.

    Reason nine wants us to recall the youth groups.  At my age, I am in the Seniors class where we listen to one of our peers (in age) teaching from the Bible, the same “lessons” I recall from the days of the childhood.  I did not understand them then, and I do not see why we segregate by age, marital status and sex if we are seeking understanding.  I was recently asked to help prepare some youngsters for streets “witnessing” and I cautioned them to be kind and listen to those who stopped, and that while a Bible verse might be nice, if it is isn’t appropriate, it should not be offered.  And don’t discuss what you have experienced unless it is in a conversation with the Lord.  I was not asked to continue.

    Finally, our Pastor would remind us that he came from a Christian family.  I did as well only we never read the Bible at home, never prayed together, we merely were neighbors to all who lived in that community.  Some might say that was not a Christian home.  I would say it was an excellent training ground for as the years wore on, my family were Christians wherever it was they found themselves.

    You may wonder why I took the time to write this.  There is only one reason, I want you to stop spouting “Christianese” and start living – in Christ.

  • I find it’s helpful for me to think in terms of why I became a Christian and why I have stayed a Christian. I became a Christian because I had Christian parents who introduced the concepts, modeled the lifestyle, and loved me enough to allow me to make decisions for myself. On several occasions I have contemplated walking away from the faith; yet have not been able to do so. On the one hand I have remained because I have experienced the tangible love of God both in the quiet of the church, but also speaking in the chaos of my heart.

     But more than anything I have experienced the existential angst of Peter as I have uttered in prayer, “where else can I go?”  I love the teaching of Christ and what it means to be human in the world. I cannot escape serving a God who would give himself for the least, the lost, the lonely, and the unlovely. Many of my Atheist friends tell me they could serve the “angry” God of the OT but cannot understand a God who dies, one who loves those who are unworthy of his love. But that is exactly why I love him. He loved an angry, socially awkward, gangly 115 pound high schooler enough to reveal Himself, and help said teen find hope and healing. Where else can I go to find someone like that?

    • Sherwood8028

      Well, the I’s certainly have it.  Remember, it was Jesus who said, “You must be born again” and He beckons all to come unto Him.  I’s die!!!!

    • I love this, Matt. I really appreciate your honesty and passion.

  • Robin

    The first and only reason I am a Christian is because God chose me.

  • KingsofZion

    i only need one reason: everything else is mathematically implausible and well…just really stupid.