i am a christian because…

Rachel Held Evans, whose blog is really fantastic and which you should be reading, shared yesterday why she is a Christian, and asked her readers to do the same. I really relate to Rachel because she is often a doubter and a skeptic and writes a lot about her experiences living an examined, questioned faith. Her post was about how the major reason why she’s a Christian is because she was born where she was born, when she was born, into the family she has. And I think it’s a really great answer, because honestly, who knows where I’d be if I wasn’t born in the Bible belt to people who raised me in church, and who knows where I’d be if that church hadn’t been an awesome Presbyterian church which nurtured my curiosity, wasn’t afraid of my questions, and didn’t belittle me for who I am. But that’s not why I’m a Jesus-follower today (I don’t usually prefer the word Christian, but I’ll go with it for the sake of this post and because that’s how Rachel phrased the question).

I mean, if I had my way, I might not be a Christian today. Often I am frustrated with what feels like my own lack of belief, though in those moments, I always seem to end up praying to God to give me my faith back…

Anyway, this is how I answered Rachel’s question:

I am a Christian because, despite my doubts, despite the fact that my cerebral nature often keeps me from ever making a true leap of faith, despite my stunning capacity for existential crises in the middle of the night, despite my inability to believe every word of the bible or check every box in any creed…Jesus will just not let me go. He calls me back to his simple Way again and again, and I am unable to stop loving him or to stop believing that the way he lived is the most authentic, human, kind way to live. I am a Christian because I love Jesus. Not because I believe everything the church says about him.

Every time I walk away, something draws me back.

Image via Flickr user Megyarsh.

When I wanted to abandon my faith because I lost someone I really cared about; when I woke up with a frozen and panicked feeling in the middle of the night, night after night, terrified that nothing I believed in was real; when I felt my furthest from God…at that moment, this totally non-Charismatic Presbyterian girl was given a strange spiritual gift. I say strange, because this “gift” was the weird habit of sobbing, uncontrollably, whenever I thought about God, whenever I tried to pray, whenever others talked about God, whenever others around me sang songs to God. For a period of several months. (This was super awkward at a missionary conference where everyone talked about God for an entire weekend, and I was the strange girl sobbing the entire time.) And while at first I thought this sobbing was just grief, the way it kept coming up, only in connection to God, eventually clued me in. And the best I can explain it is, God gave me tears when I had no words to show me that I didn’t need words. Which is a big deal for someone as wordy as I am. God gave me tears so that God could wipe them away. So that God could surround me with arms to hold me that reminded me that God’s arms are always holding me. God gave me tears so that I might know God’s nearness.

And though I can say that I’m not charismatic, I had then, and have had since, strange, mystical, deeply emotional encounters with God. Moments when someone told me words I needed to hear. People who crossed my path at just the right time. Encounters that point the way to Jesus and remind me that God refuses to let me go. (A commenter told me this sounds a lot like Calvinists’ view of irresistible grace, to which I have two responses: 1. The Calvinists won’t take me because I can’t check all their boxes, and 2. I believe I am very much free to walk away from Jesus at any time. His love is a healthy kind of love. It gives me a say in the matter.) And so I keep coming back to my faith. Because somehow, that strange experience with the sobbing, the kindness I am moved to do for others, and the kindness others are moved to do for me are all bound up in this person of Jesus who makes broken things whole and then tells them to go and do the same.

People often try to pin me down, ask me if I really believe the Bible. Ask me if I really believe this or that doctrine. And I’ve just never been great at really wrapping my mind around any of it. Which is, on the one hand, entirely against my entirely analytical nature, and on the other, entirely of a piece with it. All I can say is, I love Jesus. I love the way he lived and loved and lives and loves. I want to be like him. And I want to be among people for whom that is enough.

I’m not particularly interested in proselytizing. But I do love to explore and question and wonder and discuss (and, I must admit, even argue!). So I ask: why are you [whatever word you would use to describe your faith]?

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10 thoughts on “i am a christian because…

  1. Good article.

    Why am I a Christian? I struggled for many years with my faith. After many years of praying to God only when I wanted something from Him, I just broke down one day. And on that day, He showed me that He had been carrying me even when I thought He wasn’t listening. I surrendered my life to God, and – slowly – He started to change me. I was drawn closer to Jesus, and I have never looked back.

    I am a Christian because He accepts me as I am – weak, frail, imperfect, prone to sin. He opened His arms to me, and chose me. Agape – unconditional love from Jesus is why I am a Christian.

    http://ginzotalk.wordpress.com/

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  2. Thank you so much for the last two days post! They have really been great and made me think and realize a few things in life.

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  3. I am a Christian because Jesus has proved Himself real to me over and over and over and over again. He has given me a new heart that loves Him, loves people and trusts His sacrifice on the cross, not my own works. I am a Christian because it is THE WAY. Instead of leaving us with a hundred choices and no way of knowing which to choose, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father except through me.” So I have chosen to follow the only true way to the only true life.

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  4. I get this question a lot, myself. I guess people expect me to have some thermonuclear warhead of an apologetics response. My actual response is an article in progress. If I were to sum it up, though, I’d say that I’m a Christian because Christianity is true at the second level, the one where we stop arguing about the historicity of the Exodus or whether Ur really was of the Chaldeas in Abraham’s time and ask what the Bible says about us and the world. That, of course, is one of the things that makes me suspect that the Bible is correct at the first level too.

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  5. I am a Christian because a miraculous thing happened when the Son of Man realized he was the Son of God. How awe-inspiring is it to think on a young Jewish boy, son of a poor carpenter, realizing that the Divine was in him? I’m blown away that we know so little of his personal journey–nothing at all from 12 to 30–but what is shared about his brief career has had the power to change the course of history. I, too, Sarah, am a Jesus-follower wanting “to get it.” So, too, did a wise man sitting under a tree in India. I continue to quest. You’re a welcome milepost on the journey.

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  6. I went through a period of my life where I actively denied that I was a Christian. That was a lie. I don’t know why I wasn’t called on it by the people who knew me. I was extremely hurt and blamed God for my hurt. That’s convenient isn’t it because God is supposed to be in control of everything. What I wasn’t thinking about is that if God controlled us completely we would be automatons and have no choices in life. We would never grow and therefore never be closer to him/her. I could relate my salvation experience but I think what happened in the years after has been more significant. I’m still a Christian because God keeps pulling me back to him. It fells almost like a fingernail scratching on my heart or that sore you get on the roof of your mouth that you can’t stop messing with. He/she is just always there and I can’t not be aware of that presence. I can choose not to follow it but that just makes the scratching worse.

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  7. Why am I a Christian? I have pondered this question, too. Yes, I am a product of my environment and my upbringing (sorta) but there is more to it than that. Let me explain the sorta. I was born and raised in a Roman Catholic family. I went to 10 years of Catholic schools. If anyone could be considered “indoctrinated” that would have been me. But somewhere along the line I started asking questions. Some of the things I was being told about my faith didn’t make sense to me. At the encouragement of one of my church’s priests I began attending other denomination’s services (shocking behavior for a Catholic priest in the 70’s). I now attend a non-denominational Christian Church and, like you, call myself a follower of Christ. I don’t like being associated with some others who call themselves Christian but go with it sometimes just for ease.

    My life has not been a bed of roses. I have had trials like you wouldn’t believe. But I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that through it all Jesus has been walking by my side. I would not have made it this far without Him. I am a Christian because of His love and grace and mercy. I am a Christian because of His sacrifice for me. I am a Christian because believing in Him is the very essence of me, I am nothing without Him. I am a Christian because Jesus loves me.

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  8. I like your blog Sarah but must say I was a bit surprised to read this post from you. As we share the same first name, I see we don’t share your view on religion. See, I’ve never understood the fascination or need to be in any religion. It might have something to do with the fact that my family isn’t religious. Never having been religious I’ve never had the need to believe in anything supernatural. Even when things have gone horribly wrong and I have felt like there must be some reason for what has happened, I’ve never even thought that a God could ease my pain. In a way, not to be disrespectful, I feel believing in something greater than what my own eyes can see, seems like a weakness. Like seeking help and reassurance from something that, I believe, no one has any proof of even existing, feels like you are too weak to face the harsh reality. I’m not saying it isn’t right to belive, if being a Christian makes you happy. Or that if religion is something that a person needs to survive the world. But if something unacceptable happens due to people being in a religion, I can’t understand that and certainly don’t accept that. In my mind religion, and I don’t just mean Christianity I mean every religion, does cause more unhappiness than happiness in the world.
    So anyway, what I am trying to say is that I am one of the many millions of unreligious people, who is living proof that you can live without a religion. And in a way even better since you have no obligations that a religion might require from you. I feel like without a God in my life I can enjoy my life as the person I am and figure out what is right for me and what is not. Without religion I can be myself not a part of a group. And I feel much stronger that way.
    So I will end by saying: I am ME.

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