Recently I was asking myself why I’m a Christian. I wasn’t having a crisis of faith or anything like that; it’s just that sometimes I like to ask myself ‘easy’ questions to double-check I do actually know the answer. I’m just weird like that. But I think it’s good to challenge my long-held beliefs once in a while to make sure I’m not just bumbling along out of habit rather than genuine conviction.
The truth is that there are many, many reasons why I’m a Christian, but here are the two I’ve been thinking about lately:
1. I like Jesus
Ok, so ‘like’ is a bit of an understatement – I don’t mean I like him in the same way I like your Facebook status. I mean that he is the epitome of everything I most value and admire in people – kindness, compassion, humility, honesty, forgiveness, strength, wisdom, courage… I could go on.
Jesus wasn’t afraid to speak his mind to anyone; he wasn’t wooed by the status of the wealthy or the religious; he made time for people from all walks of life and didn’t consider anyone ‘beneath’ him; those on the margins of society – shunned beggars, ‘unclean’ lepers, shamed prostitutes and despised tax collectors – not only felt comfortable around him, but actively sought him out and wanted to spend time with him.
Every attribute I adore is found in this man, Jesus of Nazareth. I like him a lot and wish I was more like him, which brings me to my second reason…
2. I can’t change myself
I want to be kinder than I am. I love kindness when I see, hear or read about it. But you only have to spend five minutes with me while I’m driving behind some (probably lovely) octogenarian slow-coach to see that my heart and mouth are quick to pole-vault over kindness and go straight for irritability (at best).
I also want to be wiser than I am, more compassionate, quicker to forgive, someone whose instinctual habit is to see the best in people. But much of the time the reality is that the forces driving me are pride, insecurity and people-pleasing. What’s worse is that these motivators seem unstoppable and unquenchable. Left to my own devices, I’m powerless to become really free from them.
Twelve years ago, after five years of ditching my faith and running after anything else I thought might work for me, I realised that what the Bible says about me is true: no matter how hard I try, I just can’t change. Back then, I was crippled by insecurity – I literally could not function in relationships of any kind without it dominating my thoughts and behaviour. I tried everything I could to change. I spent over five years trying in different ways to turn myself into a secure, stable person, but I just couldn’t do it.
I needed God. (I still do.) And when I came back to God, I found power to change the things that I thought were inherently hard-wired into my DNA. I am kinder than I was; I am more compassionate than I was; I forgive more frequently and faster than I did before. I still have a long way to go, but a dear friend who has seen me at my absolute worst will tell you that the difference between me 12 years ago and me today is “like the difference between night and day”.
I want to be more like this amazing man Jesus, and he gives me power to do so. I’m sure I could cite 10,000 reasons (as the song says) why I’m a Christian, but even if I had only these two, they’d be enough.