Why am I a Christian? Note that this a question: “why am I?” and not a statement: “why I am”. I know my own story as I lived it but I have never fleshed out the answer to that question. I know how the faith was introduced into my life, when and from who but the “why” is something that I guess I took for granted. I believe that literally everything in life should be questioned. All things need to be subjected to a battery of examinations from as many perspectives as one can garner. The idea of this scrutiny applied to a faith may be considered by some to be near hierarchy. How dare you question the faith? I find that to be hypocritical in the face of the medicines we take, clothes we wear, automobiles we are transported in and the very technology that you are utilizing to view this post are all possible because of the innumerable failures of prototypes, attempts, theories and ponderings that we call science and experimentation. Don’t question an invisible God but take a pill from a bottle because a person in a white jacket said so…..sounds like faith to me.
Why am I a Christian?
The how is found alongside the when. The when was when I was 4 years old, my mother had been looking for a church and one day she passed by a congregation that became my spiritual home for the majority of the next three decades. My brother and I grew up there in so many aspects. Preceding that, long before my birth, you would find on a tropical island my young mother reading the bible to her older relative by their request. Prior to that was likely generations of people who actively embraced a faith and instilled the same in the generations to come.
Fast forward to my adulthood and I am still “walking with the Lord”, do anything for a few decades you learn how to do it well. Oh I know how to be a Christian, it’s actually not complicated, but when I forget I have a bible that tells me what to do.
So how and when are easy. What is a Christian is also not complicated despite the multitude of denominations that have inexplicable developed from what was supposed to be a unified faith.
Why am I a Christian?
The honest answer, separate from the faith is hard to provide. I have no horror story, I don’t remember life separate from church. There was no before/then, it’s simply Christ always was and has been. I have heard testimonies of people strung out on drugs, homeless, mentally unstable, abandoned, broken, worthless. They found their way into a church and everything, literally EVERYTHING changed.
That, is not my story.
I have no frame of reference outside of my faith. Sure I am black and yes it is truth and fact that the Christian faith spearheaded the conquest of the “New World”. However I know it to have been a putrefied faith that was misrepresented, mangled, distorted and misaligned with what it actually is as it was used to justify colonization, murder, slavery, violence and evil over centuries. I am versed enough to know that those colonizers weren’t true followers of Christ that the red text in their Bibles was due to the blood splattering of those slaughtered in their wake. You won’t find it in the teachings of Christ to somehow love your neighbor while you shackle them, shoot them then NOT hold the murderers to account in courts of law. These basic facts have caused people to throw baby and bathwater out as one and I understand it. And thus is a reason to NOT be a Christian but why am I?
The reality that I am approaching is me hitting the reset button on so many things in my life. Over the last few years, there has been rising levels of contradiction, marginalization, disrespect, disregard and invalidation in my life that has had me been wanting to make a hard stop and examine…….everything. Everything that I can think of. The last few months have caused this to reach a boiling point. Overhauling on everything and everyone and whatever and whoever is not of use is going to go. The nouns in my life are getting a deep cleaning. It’s past time.
So….why am I a Christian?
I think it is fair to add a word to that question: Why am I STILL a Christian? I didn’t have a choice as a child but as I grew up, I have become responsible for my choices. Fear of my Caribbean mother kept my grades high, chores done, attitude in check and language sanitary. This is of course in tandem with the qualities of being a Christian so performance can be attributed to more than just faith however I know plenty of well behaved, respectable people, legit contributors to society who do not claim Jesus as Lord. So that will go to the side for now.
To also be fair, the faith came down on my father’s side as well. Culturally, I had a responsibility the same as cutting the grass was required as was to be a Christian. There was no discussion about alternatives. Lord knows it was a fight when I was a teenager to “dress down” while going to church. “Is that what you’re wearing?” Not only church but Sunday’s best. So that culturally is going to the side as well, I am not a Christian because of my family.
To continue my fairness, I was never introduced to any other faith and I do not know enough about other faiths to make informed decisions like I would restaurants or sneaker brands.
So, why am I still a Christian?
Growing up in church and being a perfectionist by nature, it’s EASY to develop a haughtiness about yourself. This was NOT helped by the constant barrage of being told how invisible God is going to bless you visibly because you are so awesome. Your awesomeness is so awesome that other sick, dying, miserable non-Christians are blessed just to have you in their presence. These bums are lucky I let them be my friend because I am super dope Christian man. I am elite. The head and not the tail, above and not beneath, the greater not the lesser (actual church quotes). The problems of life will not affect me because I am 1st Captain Mega Super Power Christian man, come bask in my awesomeousity. Yeah nah. That’s gonna go too, I am not a Christian because I’m better than you.
In church is a wholly different culture and a wholly different holy. Man, if you aren’t the level of Christian I am, you might as well go be atheist. There’s levels to this and you ain’t on mine. In elation I am captivated by my self-elevating to a new elevation and experience a liberation from all of you soft half Christians who can’t pray like I do and can’t get down with the church two-step and that ugly praise face. You can’t sit with us so don’t even say hi to me before service. If you aren’t there 8 days week you really aren’t about it at all. Yeah the church is definitely not why I am a Christian.
Why am I still a Christian?
Truth be told, I have had more hurt and more disappointment in the people in church whom I called friends, acquaintances, associates and “hi and bye” people. The family of believers. I have found more honesty in the “unsaved demons” that are the people in the secular world than the people I have known for years. I learned this haughtiness about myself (for which I would like to apologize to anyone who has been offended by it) by working with the “sinners.” These sinners are regular people who amazingly have their ticks like saints, struggle like saints, experience pain like saints, loss, hurt, death, setbacks and life and just do their best to push it through. Sinners saved by grace is a phrase that is not Scripture but often used. The underlying tones are that I am like you but not, same as a pro athlete is like you but not. I learned that people are people. Everyone is going through. Every. Single. Person. No matter what you believe you can take it to the bank that you are going to experience the ugliness of life more and more the longer you live. I am not a Christian because I am different from you.
Keeping it 100, God has absolutely pissed me off more times than I can count. Legit anger. I have an expectation, hope and effort towards a dream and goal. That goal is pure, reasonable and obtainable. People support me in that goal and desire to see that goal realized in my life and celebrate even the smallest of steps in the direction of the goal. I look for the red flags and listen for the warning signal and hear and see nothing yet and more times that I can count the rug has been ripped out from under me and I fall and fall hard and have to start all over as things unravel. Walking in faith I have found myself, drained, ashamed, empty, fatigued, broken, harassed and embarrassed as failure unpacks its bags looking to stay longer than expected. This all the while having front row seats to watching other people stumble into success in their goals. Prayers unanswered, barely even acknowledged. Literally prayed to keep the “almosts” from me so I do not get my hopes up, that the teases or the quick glimpses and little tastes of what it is I am trying to work towards turns into sour scars don’t heal when it falls through. The desire to walk away from it, this faith, this hope, this flickering candle of truth is so much stronger as the disappointments pile up. Feeling more bound than free and out of sync, this is not what I signed up, the win/loss ratio is off. Everyone alive this day is breathing the same breath, whether they draw air into their lungs to oxygenate their bodies to have strength to shoot up a school or set off a car bomb or the doctors who perform the surgeries on the victims and literally save lives, we all live on the same earth at the same time. It is what we do with it that counts. No, I am not a Christian because of the blessings and exemptions I get from it.
So, why am I a Christian?
I keep trying to answer the question and I find more reason to not be a Christian. It is not because of:
All these things are tangible. We have blessings locked into tightly defined categories. If you are then you have ________________________. If you don’t then you aren’t.
I have a problem, I believe so strongly in the intangible. There are 3 main intangibles that exist:
- Free will
See, the air I breathe allows me to see another day and in that day in which I have the power to exercise my free will to do good or to do evil. Every major faith/religion acknowledges the dichotomy of good and evil. Morals and values are assigned to the execution of that which is good and the lack thereof towards the execution of evil. We see the evidence of good in good works, and the evidence of evil in evil works and the results of free will in the tangible decisions we make each day. Good and evil are both unifying forces, they appeal to and attract people. Movements of philanthropy, walks for disease awareness, fundraisers, charities, donations of blood, volunteering has a synergistic effect. Riots and genocides, policy making, corrupt wielding of power, drugs and substance abuse, illicit sexual acts and appetites also have a synergistic appeal. The upholding or the abolishing of morals has a rip tide effect on people, but what people do not realize is that we are merely conduits for sources of good or evil. We are not the source, we just channel the force. Hate didn’t die when Hitler committed suicide and love didn’t die with the deaths of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., it is bigger than just us and much deeper than just feelings.
The intangible always grips the heart. The intangible will make you laugh when you are sad and cry when you are happy. The intangible gives peace during times of brokenness from battle. The intangible allows for generational hate to consume one person after another after another so much so that the person cannot tell you why they hate, just that they hate. Intangible is Neo in the Matrix, before his transformation, knowing something is beyond what he could sense a truth yet to be realized.
What keeps me in the faith is that I realized that the intangible is not a nameless force like The Force. It is not an internal power like chi, the intangible is and possesses capacity, reason, willingness, intelligence and is communicative. These are the same characteristics that we would describe a person or attribute person like qualities to like a dog that thinks it’s human. It is this person whom I have long since been introduced to, this person whom a passing weekly service no longer sufficed. This invisible person whom I have spoken out loud to and while I’ve never heard an audible answer back, I cannot shake the intangible feeling that my audible words were heard by more than just the walls and floors. I talk and think out loud as it helps me to process but when you feel as though your words are being considered and absorbed by an open ear, you feel the difference.
Somewhere along the line it became more than just a thing I do or one of the nouns I identify with. It became a relationship with the intangible. This person, this God, this Lord who has been the invisible focus of some of my most intense rage, some of my most unanswerable questions, my adulation and my appreciation is somehow is real. I can’t shake it. When I hear music, I hear passion and creativity coming from an intangible place to my audible ear, when I taste food, I taste a history and a culture that is generations deep but yet all of it finds its genesis in the soils of this earth. The art, the music, the creativity, the passion, the power of teamwork all of it bigger and larger than us. We all experience the intangible tsunami that are our very invisible emotions that if the situation called for it would cause us to take a bullet for someone else We may live and breathe like all the other creatures of this planet but our capacity is so much more than animalistic tendencies and inherent instinct. We are powerful on purpose.
So, I am still a Christian…..why?
If you have ever asked someone why they love someone else, they will make the mistake of telling you what they have done for them, how they make them feel, how they can grow with this person and how their life has changed. That is not an answer to the question. You are describing their action and your reception but the essence of it remains undefined. Why? Explain to me, why if I bought you flowers and your husband bought you the same bouquet, why would it mean so much more to you if from him than from me? Literally explain it since it’s the same flowers. Why is your child’s god-awful art project framed on the wall? It sucks. It is not art, its scribbles yet you have Mona Lisa praise for it? Literally attempted explain it beyond “that it’s my husband”, “it’s my child”. I’ve asked this question, the answer was not heard, people couldn’t explain their “why” but they know they have one. When people know they have a “why” it goes beyond words, it goes into the heart. I know I have one, a “why” and this “why” talks to me more without words than with. I find myself in life experiencing invisible truth resonating in my invisible heart which in turn causes my invisible free will to become tangible as I choose to do and be a force for good from a place of belief, not obligation.
Why am I still a Christian?
To finally answer:
When you boil it all down, strip away all of the superficial and abolish the distractions, the answer to my question is this – I am still a Christian because I know my “why” and my “why” has a name – Jesus.
So who is He? Time to find out……..