Updated: Jun 14, 2021
“Why are you a Christian?” proves to be a more mysterious and daunting question than anticipated. The question is mysterious because it invokes eternal decisions and spiritual dimensions, and it’s daunting because the Christian’s whole worldview and perception about reality are manifest in the response. That’s why even something as meek as the believer’s quiet study in preparation to answer is personal and profound and full of revelation.
“I am a Christian because of Christ Jesus” is my immediate reply. Just as I obey my earthly father because of who he is, I obey Christ, believing in Him, because of who he is. But the intriguing thing about Christ is that moment I invoke his name, a multitude of miracles: incarnation, perfection, resurrection and the lot, must be implied. Nonetheless, I think my response to be accurate; I am a Christian because of Christ alone. By His grace, He brings me to Himself and saves me from sin. In doing so, the logical reasons for believing in Him are revealed.
There are many different variations and theories about how best to define truth, most of which seem logical and valid. Still, I think the definition of truth that Aristotle proposed is most understandable. Aristotle’s general principle of truth is that it’s a description of reality as it actually is. To say that something exists, when it actually exists, is true. And to say that something exists, when in fact it does not exist, is false. Thus, to know something exists is to know the truth.
We learned long ago that our attempts to manipulate reality—to reject what is real and instead create our own fantasy based on what we think should be real—is stupid and foolish leading to insanity. We are not designed with an ability to recreate truth as we see fit, so “sidestepping” reality will cause it to snap back like a whip and scar our souls. To dress for the snow, which is cold, in summer clothes is dangerous. To try and drive a 6ft tall truck in a parkade that's 4ft high, will crush your cab. And to try and breathe underwater, no matter how badly we want to, is impossible. Therefore, I think it’s urgent to search and discover what’s true. And then, the truth having been revealed, live in submission to what’s real.
So Christ’s proclamation that He is the truth is extraordinary and demands our attention; He’s a lunatic if He’s wrong. In saying “I am the truth,” He’s declaring that He’s reality as it actually is, or as it’s supposed to be. This self-identification is simultaneously applicable in His duality of nature, the human and the divine. In His humanity, He proclaims that He is what we, as individual humans, are supposed to be—images of God totally dependent on the Father and without sin. In His divinity, Christ means that He is the self-existent being from which all reality, and therefore all truth, flows. And it’s not as though this claim is without evidence. The miracles of Christ, His fulfilment of prophecy, His perfect life, and His resurrection, as testified by more than 500 witnesses, satisfactorily prove that He is who He claims to be. Thus, I find it necessary to accept that He really is the truth itself. I am compelled to follow Him; if I don’t, I’m trying to live in a reality that doesn’t exist.
Death stands at attention, like a ravenous lion waiting to devour my life, eagerly anticipating my final breath as my sin claims its consequence. It’s certainly no respecter of persons—all men die, some of them young, some of them old, but most of them very painfully full of suffering and sadness. Whether a man is healthy or not, rich or poor, powerful or weak, “Six feet of dirt makes all men equal" (Spurgeon). Death as a consequence of sin is inevitable for all people; why not think about it, and very often? Most of us try not to; instead, we’d rather put it on a shelf, forget about it, and “live our lives as best we can in the time we have.” But this is nothing more than trying to forestall reality as long as we can—it’s the same thing as lying about death and will summarily lead us to Hell.
I’m scared—terrified—of death (at least I was). The reported last words of Thomas Paine, Hobbes, Queen Elizabeth I, and countless others fuel a fearful nightmare that might never end. I have no desire to one day forever lie next to my family in the grave. But amid my slavery to the fear of death, the Bible tells me of a man claiming to be God, Jesus of Nazareth. In these same scriptures, He’s promised me that He’s come from Heaven to once for all time to eternally defeat death while claiming that everyone who believes in Him will fully share in that victory. It’s no insignificant promise—the mere audacity of it forces our investigation.
Verifying the claim about His divinity to be true and believing that He really was resurrected (not only in spirit but in the body as well), I have complete confidence that His claims about overcoming death are real! In fact, so absolute is His victory over death that Christ has transformed it into the way of salvation. Not only has He defeated death, but He’s also tamed it to be used for His purpose and our good. Now, by the grace of God, I die to my old self. My old rebellious spirit has been killed, and the new spirit of Christ has replaced it. Because I’ve died with Christ, I’m a resurrected man.
Nothing temporal satisfies me. Nothing finite will fulfill me in any meaningful way. I might take comfort in my family, but tomorrow they could die in a car crash. I might find value in my job, but one day (if I make it that far), my muscles will grow weak, my mind will fail, and I will be unable to work any longer. Copious vacations, luxury, and prestige all fail to provide what I crave above all else. The “higher” virtues leave me unfulfilled as well. Even if I attain something as cherished as wisdom, I am condemned to die the same as the foolish. Thus, I conclude that everything finite is like a smoke that I am unable to grab. What is wisdom, money, justice, work, and relationship if I die in the end anyway?
The craving in my heart, that which will fulfill me, is eternity itself. I’m made for another world. I know that only the eternal—that which was, is, and will be forever—satisfies my soul because it’s what I’m created for. It’s not as though wisdom or work or justice are bad things; on the contrary, they are commanded and are good. But they cannot provide the satisfaction I desire because that’s not their purpose. Suppose I had a spouse. I might love the wisdom, joy, intelligence, and compassion she possesses, but it’s not as though I love her because of individual virtues. I love her because she’s herself. If a scientist could individually separate and bottle up all of my wife’s wisdom, intelligence, compassion and then give them to me, it wouldn’t be my wife, and I wouldn’t be fulfilled. I desire a person, not a quality.
So I rejoice because in Christ, I have eternity, for He is the eternal God. The longing of my soul to be with He who is everlasting is forever is fulfilled. And from Christ comes the virtues of life that we desire, like compassion, magnanimity, and wisdom. Only now, because I have Christ, the virtues are no longer vain. I no longer work to find purpose; I work because Christ has given me purpose. I no longer strive for wisdom for meaning; I strive for wisdom because Christ has given me meaning. In Him, reality finally makes sense, and I'm saved from my sin forever.
Thus, Christ is why I'm a Christian.