A question I was recently asked
Christian: A follower of Christ, someone whose life and actions are guided by the word of God and influenced by the Holy spirit. A person who is Christ-like
I grew up in the Northern part of Nigeria, Kaduna state in the 90s, It was pretty normal for Christians and Muslims living together, I never considered why we were Christians and the other people were Muslims, I had also later been taught in school that there were three major religions in Nigeria: Christianity, Islam, Traditional worshippers. I never considered why other people served other gods, it wasn’t a priority then.
Sometime after the Kaduna riot, my family left Kaduna and came to Lagos, partly because the change of employment and the search for a better life I guess. Looking back I don’t think the riot had any effect on me because I was young and innocent, I knew what was happening but I soon forgot, However, I think it was period that highlighted the differences in religious beliefs — Islam and Christianity, for other religions I got a feel of the difference through movies.
My reason for being a Christian has gone through 3 stages:
Autopilot: A state of mind where one no longer thinks about doing one’s actions, but acts mechanically.
I grew up in a Christian home raised by Christian parents so it was normal to be taught the ways of the Lord.It was just normal to do Christian things, read the bible, pray, go to church, do good… I didn’t understand why we had to spend prolonged periods of time praying when I had finished praying for the whole world within a short period of time. I didn’t I had any spectacular new birth experience or such. I became born again because it was the ‘right’ thing to do, not spectacular experience or encounter.
World views are like opinions, everyone has one. Whether they know it or not, each person judges every experience, every fact and feeling, through an internal filter of presuppositions, that is, a predetermined set of the rules of reality. A waterfall is beautiful to one person and a noisy distraction to the next; abortion is a convenience to one and murder to another. source
Questioning Autopilot Mode
After encountering different worldviews. I was still on autopilot mode but I started questioning why I do the things I do, why I believe the things I believe.
In August, 1949, his faith in the Bible was put to the test. It came to a climax at a student conference in the San Bernardino mountains of California. Charles Templeton had asked questions about the Bible’s truthfulness that Billy could not answer.
Billy went out in the forest and wandered up the mountain, praying as he walked, “Lord, what shall I do? What shall be the direction of my life?”
He had reached what he believed to be a crisis.
He saw that intellect alone could not resolve the question of authority. You must go beyond intellect. He thought of the faith used constantly in daily life: he did not know how a train or plane or car worked, but he rode them…. Was it only in things of the spirit that such faith was wrong?
“So I went back and I got my Bible, and I went out in the moonlight. And I got to a stump and put the Bible on the stump, and I knelt down, and I said, ‘Oh, God; I cannot prove certain things. I cannot answer some of the questions Chuck is raising and some of the other people are raising, but I accept this book by faith as the Word of God.’” (Pollock, 53)
Understanding & Modifying Autopilot Mode
I believe this is the stage where I am at now, I’m getting to understand that there’s a logical explanation and clearer meaning for many things in the Christian Faith. While I might not understand everything I believe in yet, its comforting exploring this stage. Christianity is all that mystical.
I agree with Mahatma Gandhi that Christians many at times do not behave as they ought to but man’s flaws do not discredit the authenticity of Christianity.
“I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ”
The Bible is the most scrutinized and attacked book on the planet. Accusations of fallacy fly from every direction, yet it has withstood the test of time. Biblical Christianity is by far the most intellectual satisfying worldview ever known. source
I’m on the search for greater understanding, I’m paying more attention to Christian apologetics now. Reading The Islam Debate — Josh Mcdowell & John Gilchrist and Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity — Nabeel Qureshi have been quite eye-opening.
The term ‘Christian apologetics’ doesn’t refer to apologizing (or saying ‘sorry’) for being a Christian. It comes from the Greek word ἀπολογία (apología) meaning defence. The Greek term refers to a reasoned defence that would be given in a court of law. The classic example is Plato’s Apology, Socrates’ defence against the charges of atheism and corrupting the youth. source
The purpose of apologetics is to make sure Christians understand their faith, to strengthen the belief of Christians and to offer non-Christians with answers to questions for the sake of conversion. source
While I’m on the search for greater understanding it is important to note that I believe
By a leap of faith we believe in Jesus because of our own subjective (and unverifiable to anyone else) experience with the risen Christ.
I only believe in “Christianity” because I have come to believe in Jesus.
I don’t spend a lot of time (none really) arguing with a Muslim or Hindu that Christianity is “correct” and Islam and Hinduism are “wrong.” That’s always going to be a dead-end.
I do talk about Jesus. I do tell the gospel stories. I do witness to my own experience with Jesus.
In other words, I put my faith in Jesus to personally reveal himself to other individuals in a way that only he can. It’s not my task to prove Jesus or Christianity. I am simply a witness to Jesus. And Jesus will have to do the heavy lifting. Jesus will have to prove himself.
If somebody said to me today, “Just tell me in 30 seconds why you’re a Christian,” I would say, “The portrait that I see of Jesus Christ in the Gospels is self-authenticating to me. I cannot meet this man and have him speak like nobody else spoke and not believe him. He wins my trust.”
And then if they say, “Ah, but how do you know that that person is not being created by somebody else?” Then I would say, “Then the person creating him is just as phenomenal, and they win my trust. And if they win my trust then they’re not lying to me.” The Apostle Paul is not a lunatic. I cannot read the 13 letters of Paul and think he’s crazy or a liar.
Enough of the borrowed words,
I am a Christian because I am convinced that Jesus Christ is the only way to God based on experience and research that proves the authenticity of the claims of the Bible and the Christian faith.
Here are few reference materials that have helped me find clarity.