We live in an unprecedented time in the United States when Christianity is becoming increasingly less popular. We as Christians are referred to as “backwards”, “short minded”, “brainwashed” “nut jobs.” (And that’s the PG version!) Among those who consider themselves to be intellectuals, the idea of being Christian makes no sense. Generally speaking, they see Christians as redneck hillbillies who never grew their intellect beyond the 19th century. Since I consider myself an intellectual, rational and well reasoned man, my life represents something of a paradox worthy of explanation.
I am a Christian. I’ve been in a relationship with Jesus Christ since I was in elementary school. But I also have a thirst for knowledge and higher thinking. I am a scientist at heart. I understand the importance of objectivity, logic and sound reasoning. To many of my intellectual friends, this begs the question, “Why are you a Christian?”
Not for These Reasons
Before I tell you why I’m a Christian, I want to run through a list of reasons that do not apply to me.
Not Out of Loyalty
I’m not a Christian just because I’m loyal to the Christian faith. This isn’t a “team spirit” thing for me. It’s not us against them. Not that I have anything against genuine loyalty, but loyalty is a sorry reason for being Christian.
Not Because Christians are Such Wonderful People
A lot of people say that they have experienced evil at the hands of people who call themselves Christians. I have a great many friends who take gigs at churches where they think that the music ministers are self serving hypocrites. I have even met people who were raped by their pastors. Many people say they will never become Christian because the people they know who are Christian are evil people.
But my reason for being Christian has nothing to do with how wonderful the people are. Even if you could prove that 99% of all Christians are evil hypocrites, it would not convince me to give up my relationship with Jesus.
Not Because of My Family
I won’t go into details about my family life here in this context. But I can tell you that, if I was Christian just because of my family, then my relationship with some of them would be very different today. Being from a Christian family doesn’t make you Christian. You can be part of the Christian culture and never really be a Christian. I’ve heard many testimonials about pastors’ children who grew up in the church but only became saved as adults. So no, family doesn’t make you Christian.
Not Because of My Teachers
I don’t remember ever having a Christian school teacher. In fact, quite the opposite. I remember very specifically that my kindergarten teacher was a hard core, enlightened liberal who put a lot of ideas into my head at that young age. She’s the one who influenced me into being anti-car. Cars were dangerous machines that polluted our atmosphere and I grew up thinking that it would be better if we all rode horses instead. (ha ha! like THAT would solve the pollution problem?)
The point is, I never had the influence of a Christian school teacher when I was growing up. So you cannot just pass my Christianity off as being brainwashed into me by my teachers.
Not Because of My Church
When i was growing up, my family moved a lot. For most of my childhood, my family moved at least once per year, and often twice. We never really had a “home church.” In all of my childhood, (because we never lived any one place long enough to establish long term relationships) I cannot remember a single church leader. I don’t remember any of the pastors. I don’t remember my Sunday school teachers. There have been a few sermons I remembered, but most of what I learned as a child came straight from the Bible, not from the church.
Then during my college years, I went from church to church looking for the right place for me. I went to an Assembly of God for a while, but really, from the early 80’s until the late 90’s, I didn’t have a church. It wasn’t until I got hired at Quail Valley Church that I had a long term relationship with any church members or leadership. By that time I was already in my late 30’s. I had been a Christian for at least twenty years by then.
Not Because of My Government
Governments do not make people Christian. In Ephesians 6:12 the Bible says that our enemies are the powers of this world. I have always thought of the governments in that light. All governments. The founding fathers of the USA maintained that power corrupts people. They set out to create a system of government that would hold that corruption at bay.
Unfortunately, today people mistake this for righteousness. They think that America was once a righteous nation. Not so! The strength of our government has always been that there is a system in place to keep evil contained.
It’s a big mistake to think we can elect Christians into office and then we will be a Christian nation. It doesn’t work that way. Nor does it work the other way around. I have heard people say lately that having more Christians in our country will eventually make our government more Christian. Wrong! Government is the enemy.
(I am not an anarchist or anything like that. The Bible also says to submit to everyone in authority over you.)
Not Because I’m Ignorant
I am a well educated musician. I have studied sociology and psychology both formally and informally. I have been “enlightened” through my experiences as a freelance musician and my world travels. I am continually exposed to other cultures, other religions and opposing ideals. I am probably more “enlightened” than most people who consider themselves to be so.
I guess that logic behind the whole “Christians are ignorant” thing is based on an even deeper kind of ignorance. Their assumption is that no one of any intelligence would ever believe the things that Christians believe, simply because THEY don’t believe it. So their flawed logic suggests, “if we are intelligent and we don’t believe it, then those who believe must not be intelligent.” This is faulty reasoning.
Not Because It Makes Sense
There are a lot of things about being a Christian that do NOT make sense. And that’s okay with me. The Bible says:
“my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8)
It has been my experience in life that the people who make the most sense are those who are trying to sell you something. I’m almost certain that the people who drank Jim Jones’ koolaid thought he made sense.
True life doesn’t work like that. Real life has mysteries to explore at every level of detail. That’s why you can be an expert on a subject for thirty years and still feel like you have only scratched the surface.
None of these are good reasons to be a Christian
To me, being Christian is not about being in a club of like thinkers. It’s not about being accepted by your community. It’s not about having people pat you on the back to tell you how wonderful you are. All the reasons people have for not being Christian never mattered to me.
‘Tis So Sweet
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus
Lyrics by Louisa M. R. Stead, 1882
Now, before I share with you the reason I am a Christian, I want to clarify that I never do anything for just one reason. I am not like that. There have to be many reasons that align themselves in the right way for me to make a decision about something. This is especially true for big things, like “who am I going to give my life to?” So when i say that this is the reason I am a Christian, I think more specifically I am saying that this is the reason why I continue to remain a Christian even after so many people have called my faith into question.
The reason I am a Christian is just as the above quote suggests. The refrain from ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus says, “How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er.” I am a Christian today because I have seen real world results of true Christian living. I know intimately the power of Christ Jesus. I have “proved Him” hundreds of times over in my life time and in many different ways. I am a living, walking testimony of the truth of God’s promises.
I am not the kind of person who continues to do something if it doesn’t work. That’s how I was able to develop the trumpet and jazz methods that I have. I approach just about everything in life rationally, as if everything is a science experiment. I do that with my music, my health, my family life, everything.
So I can tell you that I would not be a Christian today if the promises made in the Bible were not true. There are promises in the Bible, very specific promises, some which outline very specific results if you do what it says. I have spent the last thirty years putting those promises to the test. The results in my life are irrefutable.
Consider This Logic
If the promises in the Bible are true, if God does indeed keep His word, what then does it matter to my faith that there are thousands of hypocrites who call themselves Christians? Do those thousands now nullify my experiences? No they do not. None of the criticisms people have stacked against the Christian faith have ever diminished my own personal “results.”
But here’s the trick. For anyone to disprove the Bible, they must have tried it themselves. And for them to try it, they must have first read and comprehended the Bible. Then they must have actually done what it says. And that’s the problem. The people who criticize Christianity only do so as outsiders. They tend to be people who have only read certain parts of the Bible and use those bits and pieces to demonstrate contradiction. It is easy to find things in the Bible that contradict each other. It’s not so easy to learn what the Bible actually says and to live your life accordingly.
I became a Christian for other reasons. When I was saved, I needed Jesus in my life at that time. But all of that would have been undone later if my life experiences had proved the Bible wrong. For those of you who know me, you know that’s how I am. I do not continue with anything if it doesn’t work. But there’s only one way to find out. Right?
That’s what I did. What I found was a better life. I found love. I found unconditional acceptance. I found mighty power and strength. I found an easier way to live with far greater rewards. And the beauty of it all is that these rewards are not mine to hoard, but to share with the people God brings into my life. So the more successful and genuine God’s promises are to me, the more I can bless the people in my life.
That’s why I’m Christian. Not because of what I get out of it, but because of what God can do through me for other people.