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Why am I a Christian

So you are an atheist or an agnostic.


Did you hear about the atheist and agnostics who died, the agnostic wasn’t sure if he would go anywhere and the atheist was all dressed up with nowhere to go.


Yes Christians do have a sense of humor and can be funny (at least we think we are). We do not go around fearful that somewhere, somehow, someway someone is having fun.


Relax, I will not attempt to argue with you about Christianity, but I will share some ideas I ask you to consider. These are ideas and concepts that personally move me towards faith. They move me to Christianity.


So why am I a Christian?


I would say that Christianity offers some answers to the crucial need we have. This Christian faith is not ‘fire insurance’; it is not merely for when we die. Faith in the person of Jesus Christ, a relationship with him, is not mere religion; faith in Jesus, this relationship, is a life transformation on the most basic levels.


One question we face and the need implied is, are we morally and emotionally okay as we were born or do we have issues? Are we broken and in need of healing or redemption on some level?


I don’t know where you are from or your family of origin but I do know that regardless, your family has issues on one level or another. All families have issues and problems that trouble them. There are damaged relationships that cloud lives long after the event or events themselves that create emotional traumas and separation. Why do people have all of these family-of-origin issues? This question cannot be ignored because it goes to the point I am trying to make. Intra-family issues result from family members who have issues, what I call brokenness, what Christianity calls ‘sin’.


Would you like another example, look at social media and see how people interact with each other in these venues. The meanness, the social dysfunction and willingness to attack, belittle and demean is never very far from the surface. We know in our selves that people should treat others with dignity and respect but anonymity breeds waspish responses even cruelty.


Look at the news media and see all that happens in our local communities, our nation and the world. There is constant inhumanity and cruelty and most often it is between people who know or are related to each other. Evil is on full display. You may call it any number of things, psychological maladjustment or pathology or whatever. I would say that evil is as evil does, and there is plenty of it. A man decides he no longer wishes to parent, so he leaves his toddler in a hot car on a summer day and the child dies in the car. That is evil. A thug steals an I-pad from a handicapped, defenseless woman. That is evil. We could go on about racism or religious genocide; there is no lack for material to delve into regarding terrible things in this world.


See, here is the question I have to ask you: When does evil start in you, me or another? You may say, “Well, evil happens when you do the evil act.” I don’t think that you are going deep enough in the chain of events if you start at the actual commission of an evil act, or a sin. There is a far deeper dynamic involved here; actions start further back than the actual motor impulses that move a body to say pull a gun and shoot some one. Actions start in our mind and emotions, what the cultures of old called our heart. The evil that would cause you to murder someone, assuming it is not justifiable homicide, starts in anger, rage and hatred and perhaps some more emotions or feelings of self-interest to the exclusion of the rights and needs of others. You may not pull the trigger but inside you may be filled with rage, barely suppressed due to the fear of legal consequences, but you still have evil in your heart. In short, whether you know it or not, you are broken too.


If I asked you, “Do you agree that Jesus is a great moral teacher?” you would, odds are, answer in the affirmative. If you think you are only guilty of an offense when you commit a wrong act then this great moral teacher will call you out over it. You are what Jesus calls a Pharisee and this great moral teacher who you say you admire tells you that unless your righteousness (moral goodness) exceeds that of the Pharisees you will not see Heaven, ever.


The Pharisees of Jesus’ day did everything right on the outside, the externals, but it could not make them morally right. You might say, “Well, I lead a moral life according to the Sermon on the Mount.”




What Jesus taught as recounted in Matthew’s gospel chapters five through seven was a standard that went far beyond anything the Pharisees had ever done or conceived. The standard was both external behavior and internal behavior. So in other words, it was not just whether you committed murder but whether you hated. Evil, unexpressed in action is still evil and what we Christians call as sin. So are you sure you are living by the Sermon on the Mount?




You might act right in many ways but have a heart full of rage and as black as night. That doesn’t pass the standard of the Sermon on the Mount. The problem is that we cannot really do both, that is, follow the law in our heart and actions. We cannot be truly pure inside and out. At the very least, our hearts betray us; we do not have pure hearts. If you are going to do religion your way, by your own standard, just know the yardstick you will be measured against, is a pure life and a pure heart. Good luck with that; I know I can’t.


Jesus taught that there is a heaven and a hell. If your goodness is on par with, or less than a Pharisee you will not be the agnostic who can’t make up your mind as to where you are going. If you are an atheist, when you die, you will not just be dead, going nowhere. You will end up in hell and judgment. These are Jesus’ assertions, the teacher you respect, not just mine.


So, for two examples, if you have ever had someone cut you off in traffic, and felt tempted to a road-rage incident, You might just be nigh to murder right there, whether you admit it or not. If you have ever seen a person that you wanted to undress or bed down that was married to another, or you are married, then you are an adulterer. If you have ever contemplated that you have been unfairly denied a position or goods or life status and wanted what another had you are engaging in coveting, which is the genus for theft. Do you see yourself? I see me. What you should be seeing in yourself and what I see in myself is the problem that is world-wide. I will admit that I didn’t start out seeing my part in the whole equation.


When I was young my own sense of personal rectitude and righteousness was fairly well developed. Externally, I lived an upright, moral and responsible life; I was that Pharisee that Jesus zeroed in on. I seemed to, on the outside, have licked the issues that might steer me towards bad actions. The passage of the years, however, began to point out with ever increasing clarity that my inner man, my heart, was a different matter. My heart was what the Bible calls sinful and oh so very broken. By that I mean that I was easily ruled by selfish interest and concerns; I wanted my way sometimes to the exclusion of the needs of others. In my inner man was this pride, this anger and lust. To be sure, I was able in my life, in large part, to do anything externally I set my mind to, but my heart I could not change. There was the way I lived outside, but there was that part of me on the inside that was ugly and unchangeable, at least by my efforts. I knew what was right, based on my religious upbringing but living out what was right was really hard. I could not pull myself up morally, in my heart, by my bootstraps. Knowing what is right and doing what is right can be two completely separate matters altogether. If you are honest with yourself you will see that you may live outwardly morally but be anything but truly moral in your heart.


Speaking for myself, I have seen, in my heart, lust (sexual attraction and lust are not synonymous, by the way…lust is concerned with satisfying a passion regardless of the desire or need of another). I have envied the good fortune of another and complained it was not fair that they had prospered and I had not. I have wanted at times what was not mine to have. I have been bitterly angry. Do I need to go on to draw the picture for you? These particular failures or sins are poison; they are death to the heart and soul. I could not cure myself; I did not possess the potion for this heart poison. So the world is broken, you are broken and so am I.


The greatest need for this world, your greatest need, again whether you see it or not, and my greatest need was the action of an internal life-changing power, to forgive my sins and change my heart. Christianity accurately lays out our real problem and points out correctly that we cannot fix the brokenness in our soul, the brokenness that is, at the least, on the inside. I needed a Savior: Christ is that Savior; Christ is the very God-Creator come down as a man to renew, restore and remake me. I needed a Savior to deal with the issue of my sinful heart darkened with pride, anger, lust and envy. This Savior Jesus calls to the world to turn from their sin and bow their knee to his life-renewing power and authority.


Yes, I was taught well about the Christian faith, but I had to realize that I needed its central message of change in the inner man. What I learned had to become not just an intellectual grasping of a religious thought; it had to truly change me from the ground-floor upward. Slowly, haltingly, struggling with failures and unwillingness at times to surrender my own private kingdoms, I have been altered fundamentally and am still in the journey. Yet, this process of reclamation of the heart and soul of Brian Bailey will not be completed until I meet Christ in heaven, face to face.


All religions offer or require some type of external change; Christianity changes the heart. A relationship with Jesus Christ changes us in ways that no other religion can. Christianity offers a reordering of our basic hunger and desires; it moves us to long for a holy, God-centered life. Our hunger for selfhood and self-determination is transformed into a hunger for God. Although our head, our intellect is involved, Christianity becomes a matter of the changing of the heart. Christianity speaks of an active creator who works with the apex of that creation; He is here, not silent but fully involved. This Christian faith sees us as we are, with our broken, divided yet self-focused heart and fulfills the promise “…behold I make all things new.”


That “…all things new” as we have said is a process. I am a redeemed sinner, but a sinner still. God’s kingdom does come to earth, one changed life at a time until, He completes the process at the end of the age when Christ returns to reign and this world is fully redeemed.


You, the reader, may have lost all patience with religion in general and Christianity in particular. Well, I understand as I have been in various churches over the past half century and have seen some things that make me shake my head. Before you chuck religion and or Christianity let me ask a simple question: what are you going to replace it with?


Christianity is valid and needed for reasons that go beyond the individual. Jesus called his followers ‘salt’. We can and should have a preserving influence on cultures. Christianity grants dignity and worth to all people in all sorts of conditions; all have intrinsic value simply because they are humans. We assert that this dignity arises from the fact that people are created in God’s image, that we are image bearers. Because people are God-images, people are valued, the healthy and the ill, the normal functioning and those who have various mental, intellectual or physical challenges. Christians say all are worthy. The Christian faith values human beings; it is the hope for individuals, it is the hope for cultures and it is the hope of the world. Christianity is your only true hope.


This faith on which I stand offers integrity regarding the true human condition of our sin, our brokenness and our honest depravity. This faith also offers something else, as we have mentioned: the boiled-down-to-its-essence reason as to why I am a Christian, namely, its efficacy. It works; I am new, different, dare I say, reborn. I am reborn and growing; maturing and being changed into the image of Jesus. In no way am I finished in this process, but through his power I am being changed. The fact that an external power and action is needed to initiate this rebirth, this renewal process in my life is also part of its integrity. To wit, my inability for real and radical transformation depends not on me, but thankfully, on He who created. That creation power re-creates me. You can be re-created too!



Copyright © 2014 Brian Bailey, Author