Archive for August, 2005
I have a good friend who recently posted an entry on his blog entitled ‘Coming out of the athesist closet’ where he describes a period of time where he ‘became’ an atheist. I wanted to tackle the same issue, but on the other side: why I am still a Christian.
The church I was involved in for some time takes regular missions trips to New York City to spend a week interacting with the culture and simply telling people about who Jesus is. Of course, about 4 years ago, 9/11 happened. In response to that event, our church planned a second trip that year to help heal some of the then fresh wounds that had impacted that city. We had the logistical capability to do it and so we went. Melissa and I, who had been strong supporters of the trip, decided to go ourselves and it was for me (as for many who went) still a life changing event. After one of the days our small group was headed back to the hotel we were staying at and decided to stop for a bit of NYC culture and grab a bagle/snacks at a local deli. While we were standing in line a couple of us noticed some people standing outside that looked suspicious (read: people who could beat you up in an alley and take your money away from you…) and two of our group went up to talk to them. About 20ish minutes later as we were standing around the corner waiting for them to finish we were praying for their saftey and that the conversations would go well around the corner popped our two friends and the two guys who were standing there. It was almost as if I didn’t even recognize them; these two men who had before looked so threatening looked like a burden had been lifted off their shoulders as they announced their faith in Jesus Christ.
Some could sign that off as that particular moment in history and some, I imagine, could resign it to something other that what it was; simply that when confronted with Truth people change. These kinds of moments I’ve seen countless times throughout my life and it just leads me to something very concrete; that grace alters people.
Sure, the argument arises that Christianity has been the guise under which some of the worst atrocities of mankind have been performed, but one of the chief assumptions of Christianity is that man is fallen. No matter who you talk to, you deal with a man that is imperfect and whose driving force is power. To me, it just really doesn’t make sense that people will say that they are generally good and that they deserve on that merit to get into heaven. If you believe in the concept of God, He is perfect and requires perfection of anyone that comes into his presence.
Fortunatly, for us, he’s also full of compassion and mercy and has extended us a way to get into his presence; that person being Jesus Christ. Here’s where it hits home for me. To someone whose not experienced this, it just seems silly, but I’ve not seen people part from an encounter with the Truth of Jesus Christ without being changed – not made perfect yet, but changed.
Because I claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ doesn’t mean that I somehow now don’t sin. I deal with issues like a desire for power or envy or swearing or that kind of business but now I have to also reconcile my relationship with a holy God who by his grace sees me as o.k. and this is what changes me; but that’s another blog entry all together.
The alternative from my vantage point is nihilism…wow…now there’s a joy-filled life eh? Really, what is the point. I go to work daily and I get home and repeat the same routine only to be told 30 ish years from now that I’m no longer needed by society and I can go off to someplace warm and quietly die. Is that o.k. with you? It’s not with me; to me it leads to despair. There are too many chances that I’ve let go to not believe that there is a God that gives me significance, more importantly, that loves me.
I originally started this post a while ago and just haven’t finished it yet. I’ll leave you with this quote:
I am a Christian because I have seen the love of God lived out in the lives of people who know Him. The Word has become flesh and I have encountered God in the people who have manifested (in many “unreasonable” ways) His presence – a presence that is more than convincing – it is a presence that is compelling. I am a Christian, not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity to me, but because there were people who were willing to be nuts and bolts. – Rich Mullins