Why I am a Christian

A fascinating book

On my desk beside me as I write is an amazing little book. It is a collection of writings in ancient Greek. It contains:

  • four biographies of a man called Jesus who lived at the beginning of the first century of our calendar;
  • a history of the first 30 years of the Christian church; and
  • a collection of 22 letters which various followers of Jesus sent to one another during that 30 year period.

It’s generally known as the New Testament.

No orCover of Greek New Testamentiginal copies of these writings survive. There are hundreds of hand-written copies in various museums and libraries around the world. The earliest surviving copies date from a little more than a century after the events they describe, suggesting that the original copies would have been written little more than 30 years after the events. The wording differs slightly from copy to copy, as you would expect with something produced by human beings rather than machines. This is not a fictional story written by one person but a collection of journalistic writing by at least 8 different people. They all have one thing in common – their lives have been impacted by Jesus.

An amazing person

Together they paint a picture of an amazingly kind, gracious, wise, insightful person with a gentle sense of humour. He is a man who easily gains the trust and loyalty of men and the love of women. He is a man who treats women and children with respect and with whom they feel safe. He is a man of deep compassion and empathy and yet unwavering self control. He is a man who listens but not someone to be pushed around.

Whether he was real or not, he is the kind of person I would like to be.

The writers are real human beings, from an older culture than ours but not unintelligent, or uneducated. They are not gullible people who are easily taken in. They include some great minds. And yet the accounts tell of Jesus doing miracles – turning water into wine, walking on the sea and healing the sick. They assume a world view where people can be protected and guided by angels and influenced by evil spirits. His presence seems to make evil spirits reveal their presence in people.

Either these events happened as described or the writers were collectively deceived. But the character of the man the writings portray is not that of a deceiver. As J B Phillips, a famous New Testament expert said, the accounts have “a ring of truth” about them.

The followers of Jesus who penned these writings had come to believe that, in the person of Jesus, God had visited the earth to reveal himself to the human race. When they address Jesus as God, he does not contradict them. C S Lewis (author of the Narnia stories) said, “Either this man was and is the son of God, or else a madman, or something worse… But don’t let us come up with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He hasn’t left that open to us.”

An offer you can't refuse

Jesus’ message was about something he called “The rule of God” (often misleadingly translated as “The Kingdom of God”). He asserts that, above and beyond the political authorities in the world, there is a creator God who judges what human beings do and who has set a time in the future when he will intervene to give everyone what they deserve. Since, for many of us, what we deserve is some degree of punishment, he has made a way for us to escape that punishment. Jesus lived on our behalf a life of perfect obedience to God, even being willing to lay down his life. He offers to do a swop. In return for our trust and allegiance he offers to wipe our record clean and replace it with his record of perfect obedience to God.

He offers us forgiveness, the gift of his Spirit living within us and the privilege of working with him to spread the message of God’s rule and to make the world a better place. That offer of forgiveness is not equalled by any of the other great world religions.

By a process of logic, working from the little book on my desk which has to have come from somewhere, I arrive at a challenge to respond to Jesus and to become one of his followers.

A step of faith

First page of Matthew's gospel in original GreekThere is a point where logic can take you no further and you have to take a step of faith I’ve made a choice to believe in, trust and follow Jesus. There are enormous benefits in doing this – a sense of purpose, the sense of never being alone, and a hope for the future that goes beyond this life. Step by step, as I move on in faith, the certainty grows, through answered prayers, through the feeling of God’s Spirit living in me and through me, through experiences of prophecy where God seems to speak to other people through me.

There is no such thing as absolute certainty in this world. Yes, I have doubts. But life is better with Jesus than without him. And I am a better person with Jesus than I would be without him.

What do you think of Jesus? Don’t say you’ve never given it consideration. He has shaped human history and gained the allegiance of a huge proportion of your fellow human beings, how can you ignore him?”

Why not read the New Testament for yourself, if you haven’t done so before? You can read it online

You can find out more about Jesus at www.rejesus.co.uk

Many people have found their lives transformed for the better after praying a prayer such as the one below. Why not try it for yourself? Just read it out with sincerity and see what happens:

"Lord Jesus, son of God, I ask you to make yourself known to me. I acknowledge you as Lord over all. Thank you for visiting this planet, living on my behalf the life I failed to live and dying as a punishment for my wrongdoing. Please forgive the bad things I have done. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit and make me a child of God."