Why do I call myself a Christian?
It is an interesting thought, to call myself a Christian. Why should I be so bold? Some would argue arrogant...
To answer the question, perhaps it would be best to explain what "a Christian" is, or at least my understanding.
Jesus Christ, of the Bible, is my savior. Now what in the world do I mean by that? Savior from what? From whom? Why do I need to be saved at all? Why do I think a person who lived 2,000 years ago can save me, even if I need to be saved?
Savior from what, or who... I would have to say savior from myself.
Left to my own desires, and devices, I am a mess. I want stuff, I want things, position, power....I want to eat and have and be known. What's more, it is clear that my base; my most in-depth desires are not for good...I need someone to show me a better way. I have heard it said that people just know there is something better, and I can agree with that.
Those who know me, know I have always been a churchgoer, from perfect attendance at Sunday School, to being an Eagle Scout, surely I am "good enough"? Surely there is some cosmic scale that weighs the good versus the bad? Every time I do a good thing, doesn't that add to the positive side of the scale? Can't my "pile of good" be big enough to outweigh the junk?
If there is a God, wouldn't He make the answer clear?
For years I thought that going to church, that knowing the Bible (or at least its stories) WAS enough, enough to counter the bad stuff that crept into my life, my actions, or words, or whatever...
Yet try as I might, it never seemed to be enough.
Years ago, (I was 33), I reached a point where it finally got to be clear enough for even a thick headed guy like me to see.
Yes, I was an ok guy, yes, I was going to church, in fact active at church; went on retreats, did all the stuff I was supposed to, but despite that fact, I was in a tough place.
For years I had been doing work on earth, in my way my direction, specifically real estate development, borrowing money developing land into home lots, then selling them. Several million dollars of debt. I signed for that debt personally.
Understand, lots and lots of people did and do this. Even today. Sometimes it works. For me, it wasn't working.
A freeze put lots of customers out of work. The peso went down significantly in value; Mexican citizens could not spend nearly as much here as before. The World's governments quit lending to Mexico, and the price of oil dropped through the floor.
It was 1983.
It was awful.
Try as I might, I could not meet the obligations I had agreed to; couldn't make the payments on those notes. What was worse, the stress of these debts, coupled with the stress of "trying so hard to perform" and an inability to acknowledge my "failings" was putting real stress on my relationships, especially at home.
I was failing.
I wasn't perfect, and nothing I could do would fix any of it. It was a revelation to me that I had spent my life trying to show that I had "worth" that I was "ok" that I have value, all by what I did that my performance in this life was determining if I had value. Yet since I was not performing well; all that I was working so hard on was not going well at all; deep in debt, relationships on the rocks...kids yes, but what were they learning from me; after all I was failing....
In fact it got so bad, I felt I really was at a point of deciding: to be or not to be.
Fortunately, God stepped in.
My wife and I had been watching Christian TV for some time; Pat Robertson's 700 Club to be exact, and it lifted my spirit every time I watched. After all, I had been raised "Christian" went to a Christian day school, attended church weekly (we went to church on vacations, I had perfect attendance at Sunday School, I was an acolyte; the one everyone wanted for weddings, and funerals) a friend recently reminded me that I performed in Jesus Christ Superstar, before we got shut down by the official copyright holder... Yes, I had a great Christian background, yet....at this juncture, at this very point in time, I knew ABOUT Jesus, but ONLY about Him.
So there I was, watching Pat Robertson, as he started down the normal path of leading the "sinner's prayer". Having watched 700 Club numerous times, I knew what was coming, but for some reason, that night, I found myself thinking "God, I don't need to say this prayer do I? After all, I know all about you, I have been a good churchgoer, I had all those perfect attendance medals, been an acolyte, etc., etc., etc...."
That night was different.
I "heard" God say, "yes, you do need to say that prayer, for you, take this gift I am offering, and make it yours". So that night (1989) in my living room, in front of my TV, I repeated that prayer which I had heard many times before:
Lord forgive me, I am a sinner. No matter how hard I try, I can not be good enough to warrant heaven. Jesus, I know and proclaim you are Son of God, that you lived, died and rose again, all FOR ME, and this day, I give you my all, everything I have; my life is Yours. Please forgive me of my sins, please take me, and mold me to be Yours, I love you and will live for you, Always, Amen.
Please understand, I did not "hear" an audible voice, but rather that still small voice inside, clear as a bell. Know to, the prayer above is not exactly what I said. I did not sit there and write it down. No, I understood, God wanted me, as I was, "failure" and all. He wanted me to confess my failings, and surrender my life to Him, in words that are not "magic", but in a heartfelt and deep way.
Yea God! He stuck with me for 33 years before I finally saw that light! NOTHING I could do would make me have worth. My only "worth" comes from His choice to come down from Heaven, to live a perfect life for me, to die for my sins, and to rise again to live eternally!
So why do I call myself a Christian? Because I do KNOW (please note ALL CAPS) that Jesus died for me; that He rose from the dead, and lives this very day with our Heavenly Father, reigning in my life, making me worthy...no failings on my part take away that worth, no action on my part makes me more worthy...
I am glad you have read with me so far. Perhaps we know each other, perhaps not. I pray something you have read has touched you today. If you have "heard" God this day, please take a moment, open your heart to God, ask Him to touch you, to talk with you, so that you and He have a conversation which will lead to eternity.
Please feel free to drop me a line...
In Jesus name,