Monday, August 07, 2006

Why I Am a Christian

It’s a question I’m often asked, so here are six quick reasons that I’m a Christian.

I think it's important right at the start to say that I probably believe the one thing that people aren't allowed to believe these days. I believe that there is such a thing as true truth.

You see, we like to say that people can believe whatever they want, as long as it's true for them. But there's a big difference between knowing that some things work, and that some things are true.

Let me give an example. You know trashy horror movies? You know there's always someone who doesn't think there's any danger? And for quite a bit of the film, it tends to work for them. They don't get all stupidly panicky like everyone else in the film; they get on fine. But in those films, although that belief might work for a bit, it doesn't tend to be true, and it doesn't tend to work for the whole film.

I am more than happy to let people believe whatever they want to believe, but that doesn't stop me from thinking that if I am right, then they are wrong. Sometimes they are sincerely wrong, sometimes they make a much better job of being wrong than I do of being right, but I'm still sure that only one view can be right. So I thought I'd explain why I'm a Christian. There's loads and loads of reasons, but here's 6 of them.

Reason 1 - Science

First reason, I'm a Christian because I think believing in God is the only way to understand science. Science, especially physics, is all about explaining what goes on in the real world by breaking it down into rules. So we can explain a whole load of stuff about motion using Newton's 3 laws of motion. Well, if you do this right through physics, you end up with a handful of theories. Some of them, like one called quantum electrodynamics, are well understood. Some, like quantum gravity, aren't. But it doesn't explain how those theories actually work. Take an example - why do like charges repel? I could say that in QED, the energy of the particle interchange is positive and decreases with distance. But that doesn't really answer the question - it just says what they do in more complicated language. Why do the basic laws work the way they do? Physics can't ever tell us, and that's deeply annoying for physicists. But if God makes the laws, then it all fits together nicely and makes sense.

Reason 2 - Self-worth

Second, I think it's the only answer to self-worth.

What makes you worth anything as a person? Sense of humour, strength, intelligence, how well you do at school, which football team you support, the fact that you're a nice person? What makes you worth it? To be honest, a lot of the time we kid ourselves that we're better than we are. So what happens if your results go wrong and you find you aren't bright as you thought? What happens when that relationship you rely on falls apart? What happens when you realise that you actually aren't a nice person? If I think I'm worth something coz I'm good at sport, what does that mean about someone who isn't?

As a Christian, my self worth is based on the fact that I know God loves me no matter what I'm like. There's this great quote that says "We are more wicked than we ever feared, and more loved than we ever dreamed."

So if I do really badly on an exam, that doesn't make me worth any less. If everyone I know says they hate me, that doesn't make me worth any less. If I'm in a car crash and end up paralysed and with severe brain damage and everyone I know has forgotten me, I know I'm still going to be worth something because God still loves me.

Reason 3 - Revelation

Third reason I'm a Christian - I think the only way we can know God is it he tells us. You see, we can't do experiments on God. He is a lot bigger than us, and a lot cleverer than us. So the only way we can know about him is if he tells us about himself. There's lots of religions that are basically people figuring out how to get to God. I couldn't do that, coz I know I'd get nowhere. But God has told us about himself, and he did that supremely in one man who lived 2000 years ago - Jesus.

Reason 4 - Sin

Fourth reason I'm a Christian - I think it's the only way of making sense of what's wrong with the world. The Bible tells us that God made the world (it doesn't worry too much about how) it tells us God made us and he gave us all the abilities we have. But it also tells us that we decided that wasn't enough - that we want to say what's right and wrong for ourselves, and that we have tried to set ourselves up against God. And because of that, we'll always end up being frustrated.

Look at history. Hitler only lasted so long because most of the people went along with what he was doing. Ditto Stalin. With all the progress we've made in technology, we're no happier than we were beforehand, and we're still no better as people either. One of the things that really shocked me when I was about 16 was that I read an interview with a serial murderer and rapist on Death Row in the US, and I realised that I could have gone that way easily. And that fits exactly with what the Bible says. All of us try to set ourselves up against God.

Reason 5 - Guilt

Fifth reason - I think the Christian message is the only way of dealing with the fact that we do stuff wrong.

Did you know that in surveys, 90% of drivers rate themselves as "above average" or better? We do the same when it comes to how we live. We like to think we are better than other people, or at least good enough to get through whatever standard there is for heaven. The problem is that I'm not. Neither are you. The standard for getting into heaven, says God, is perfection. Nothing less. That means that every moment of our lives, we need to be living in a way that is totally grateful to God for everything he has given us. And we all stuff up. We all go against our consciences. No-one is good enough to get to heaven on the basis of how they live. No-one ever will be, and no-one ever has been. Except Jesus. The brilliant thing about being a Christian is that I know that Jesus offers to swap places with me. You see, Jesus lived the perfect life, then he died even though he didn't deserve it. So he offers the chance for us to swap places with him. If we want, we can take the place in heaven that he deserves, and we can know that he has already taken the punishment that we deserve for the way we ignore God.

Reason 6 - The Resurrection

Sixth reason - being a Christian is the only way to understand Jesus' resurrection. If you look at the historical evidence, it's actually pretty conclusive that Jesus rose from the dead.

Think about it. The Romans beat him pretty horribly, then executed him. They were good at that. The tomb was guarded. A few days later, the tomb was empty and hundreds of people were claiming they had seen Jesus alive afterwards. These same people were so convinced about it, they gave their entire lives to telling people about it, and a fair proportion of them were executed for saying so. Yet still they kept on telling people.

So I'm a Christian because it works for me, but also because I am convinced that it is really true.

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