Why I am a Christian: Part I
We are going to dive into some deep doctrinal waters in weeks to come. I am planning to write a series on the Five Solas – their historical background, what they are, if they stand up to questioning. A project like this takes a great deal of research and careful planning, however, and I don’t want to leave the blog completely inactive while wading through piles of books and stacks of articles. So, as a lover of both story and debate, I thought it would be worthwhile to answer a question I have been asked on multiple occasions:
Why are you a Christian?
The short answer is that it makes sense on psychological, social and historical grounds. (Please hold your objections to the end of the post). The short answer is always the end point of a long journey, though. It is that journey I wish to tell you about.
I was raised in a Christian home. Some of my earliest memories involve being at church, giggling with other little girls as we twirled in our fancy Sunday dresses. I was taught to pray, very simply, at a young age. My brother and I had cassette tapes that contained Bible stories and worship songs. My parents prayed and I knew that they read the Bible.
My understanding of life began with God. It was a given that He was real.
The thing I don’t remember is the day that I decided to ask Jesus to forgive me and be the Lord of my life. My mom tells me that I was 4 or 5. I came out of the bedroom I shared with my brother and told her, quite matter-of-factly, that I had asked Jesus into my heart. That was that.
I had a simple, innocent understanding of God. When I hit first grade, I told my parents that I was always the first one to finish my lunch and go outside to play. My mom asked me if I was lonely, being all by myself. I told her that I was fine; I would sit on the swings and talk to Jesus. He was my friend.
When I was 7, I received a Bible in my Easter basket. It was a New King James Version done up with Precious Moments illustrations and little devotions for kids. I loved that Bible. (I still have it). I loved that I could read the stories by myself, that I could highlight things I liked (I have a deep, abiding passion for highlighters) and that I could write in it. Never once did it occur to me that I couldn’t write in my Bible. I had questions. I read things that made me cry. Or made me laugh. Or made me think, “God is just SO COOL!” Why not make notes?
I was encouraged to read my Bible – and I was encouraged to ask questions. Faith in God was never presented to me as something requiring a closing of the mind. I was a kid who needed to understand things, and that need splashed across every area of life. Why did the American Revolution happen? Why does 2+2=4? How come dogs don’t like cats? Why can I float in the water? Why was David the only one willing to fight Goliath? How did God make the world? Why don’t some people believe in God?
My parents didn’t always have answers for me, but that never stopped me from asking.
Right about the time I got that Bible, we left the church we’d been involved in for as long as I could remember. That made me sad, but I understood that my parents thought it was the right decision for our family. For awhile we didn’t go anywhere, but eventually my parents began the process of finding a new church for us. This was when I became consciously aware of different ways to order a congregational worship service (of course, I didn’t know that’s what I was aware of). This fascinated me. Could various churches do things differently and still be worshiping God?
We settled into a new congregation, but never quite became part of it. My brother and I were very shy, so the large numbers of children in the Sunday School classes scared us to death. Mom and Dad, being shy themselves, never forced us to join in. I was glad for that, much preferring to sit in the adult service and listen to the pastor’s beautiful preaching. (It didn’t hurt that he had a British accent, and I was already a confirmed Anglophile). I took my Bible with me and, with help, found the passages that he preached from. I was learning.
Things continued in much the same way for a few years. Like most people, it wasn’t until junior high school that my questions about life and all I had been taught reached a deeper level. The ages of 12-14 are so hard; you’re beginning to shed childhood, responsibilities increase, hormones rage. Suddenly, everything I had known to be true was shadowed by a gigantic question mark. It didn’t help that I had started attending a private school, away from all my childhood friends – and that we had been going to a new church.
This is where we’ll stop for today. I encourage you to reflect on your own story.
Grace and peace,