Opinion  |  

Why you should become a Christian

Christianity is all about what is good, truly good. It is news about how people can receive good from God himself. That’s what ‘gospel’ means – good news. It is a free offer from God who wants to give his blessing to people. And being God’s own promise, it is reliable and true: it must be good, then, to be a Christian.

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Genuine Christians are not like slaves – sad, imprisoned, reluctant worshippers. Rather, authentic followers of Christ are joyful and thankful because they have found something so good and great (Matthew 13:44-46; 1 Peter 1:8).

This is why Christians want other people to become Christians. It is why they pray for and support the spread of the Christian message. Sincere Christian outreach is not intended as a ‘creepy’ salesy thing with a hidden agenda. When it appears that way, we’re sorry because the motivation is a genuine enthusiasm for a wonderful reality. Christians want to share the incredibly good and great thing that they have found.

So, what are these things about Christianity that are so rare and wonderful? Why should someone become a Christian?

1. Because of Jesus, not the Church

The primary treasure found in Christianity is Christ himself, not his followers. Coming to Christianity is first and foremost about discovering Jesus, not coming to church or finding friendship with Christians. After you have met and felt the love of Jesus, becoming a Christian is about starting to trust him as your good and great King.

We expect to see an overall picture of disappointment when we consider the church.

It is legitimate to question the church and the track record of Christians or Christian communities, but these are not fundamentally relevant to seeing the good in Christianity. Jesus is the only discovery necessary to understand to the claims and call of Christianity.

It is important to recognise that Christianity spells out that Christians (like all people) will continue to fail to live up to the goodness of God. In this sense, the church is Jesus’ work in progress; the ultimate completion of this will be realised in eternity, not in our lives here in this world. Therefore, we expect to see an overall picture of disappointment when we consider the church today and throughout history.

It is for this very reason that Christ came. Society at large, institutions, individuals without exception – Christian or not – are fallen and in need of ultimate rescue from guilt, and restoration to the good order that should be in the world.

Jesus is the high view of what this looks like; he is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). People gain by becoming a Christian only through being ‘in Christ’ and sharing in his power over death and sin. Put simply, all the great blessings offered by Christianity are found in Jesus himself (Colossians 2:9). Become a Christian because of who Jesus is and how good he is: he is the life, he is the truth, he is the way to God (John 14:6).

2. Because it’s the truth, not a myth

Christianity is much more than a powerful story. It is not a myth that embodies deep primordial truths about the human existential experience. It is not even the offer of a narrative to bring you meaning. Although it does involve a powerful story that resonates with realities that we continue to experience as human beings, the history of the Bible and the central story of Jesus are significantly more than useful information containing relevant ideas.

Christianity is first and foremost the offer of truth – facts and history that can bring you into what is true and right. As much as it appears to be mythic and religious truth, the Bible presents Christianity as actual, factual truth, historical, and real in relation to this world.

Christianity is first and foremost the offer of truth.

In a letter to early Christians, the Apostle Peter wrote, “we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (1 Peter 1:16). Similarly, when the Bible talks about God, people, the world, the beginning, the end, it describes things that are genuinely true in the reality of which we are a part.

This is crucial. It means that Christianity offers input from outside the realms of our own notions or apprehensions. It is truth coming down from above, like light shining into darkness; it offers the transformative, the ultimate, a way for rescue. Christianity is so much more than help for the problems we already have; it is hope for something much greater still.

3. Because it’s grace, not law

Like a hospital, Christianity is for sick and dying people, not for a healthy, righteous world (Mark 2:17). Christianity is the Emergency Ward for people who are guilty, ashamed, failed and flawed. The gospel is a message for those who know they have ruined themselves, and others, and this world in one way or another. Jesus associated so closely with the social outcasts of his day that he was labelled and mocked as a ‘friend of sinners’ (Matthew 11:19).

The shock of Christianity is that it is not those who are upright, devout and self-assured who receive God’s forgiveness and unmerited favour but the lowly in spirit, who knowingly beg for mercy from Jesus – as Jesus points out in Luke 18:9-14. The great risk of having confidence in your moral integrity or relying on your perception of good intentions and behaviour is that you may never recognise your need for grace from Jesus and so fail to come to him to receive mercy.

One of the most exemplary characters in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, makes this point by listing all of the causes for confidence he has before God from a worldly and religious perspective; it is an impressive list in his society and culture’s day, and yet he considers it all garbage. He describes his credentials as a “loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith”  (Philippians 3:8-9).

The Christian faith places confidence not in what you do or have done but rather in a simple trust in what God has already done for you.

This is amazingly good news, because no matter who you are, where you’ve come from, or what you’ve done, you can enjoy the extraordinary acceptance and right relationship with God that freely comes through trusting Jesus.

The Christian faith is different to other faiths in this crucial respect: unlike alternative moral, philosophical, spiritual or religious traditions, the Christian faith places confidence not in what you do or have done but rather in a simple trust in what God has already done for you, so that you can obtain mercy from him.

So, become a Christian because you can! It is for anyone, and anyone can become a Christian because it is free for all who trust in Jesus – whatever your track record of achievement in the past, present or future.

4. Because it leads to lasting life, not short-lived gains

For someone who truly becomes a Christian, foundational changes are the result. Becoming a Christian is not an event or a process for receiving help from God to go on living life as you ordinarily would. Rather, receiving forgiveness from God is a means of living obediently to God in a new relationship, of child relating rightly to God as loving Father. This is a major realignment, a calibration of your life, to live in harmony with the true purpose of all things, under the one from whom and for whom and through whom all things exist (Romans 11:36).

This is one of the outstanding blessings of being a Christian: knowing God and his will.

This new life means coming to understand God’s purpose for your life, as a person designed by him to fulfil a role under his rule in the world and, then, starting to think and act in light of that. This is one of the outstanding blessings of being a Christian: knowing God and his will, understanding his purposes for the world and our lives, and making choices based upon his plans and the end of time.

When asked to summarise what life under God in this world is all about, in terms of the greatest commandments, Jesus said to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and secondly to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). And at the end of Jesus’ time on earth we’re told that his purpose now, for this time in history following his death and resurrection, is that his followers would bring this message of his mercy to the world, so that people from every nation and language would find forgiveness and become obedient children of God the Father (Matthew 28:18-20). Everything else in the Bible and in this world exists to guide us towards this end.

Become a Christian because it gives you something more worthwhile to live for.

Although lifestyle in our society often revolves around our tastes in food and clothes, or our enjoyment of travel and entertainment, or finding satisfaction in affluence, popularity or successful relationships, the reality is that true quality of life is so much more than these temporary pleasures.

Christianity provides the only way to a well-lived life because it gives people the only true hope of lasting value based on what God, as the sustainer, has told us will endure for all time. Knowing him and loving others is of eternal significance because God, as the Creator and the Future, prizes lives of love by people reconciled to him. Become a Christian because it gives you something more worthwhile to live for.

5. Because it gives hope, not fear

Fear drives so much of what we do, particularly fear of loss – loss of control and freedom, loss of respect, loss of love and life. But the ultimate loss – death and eternal judgment – is the heart of fear that Christianity drives away.

The Apostle John wrote, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them … There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:14–18)

Because Jesus rose from the dead, you now stand before God just as if you never sinned at all.

Fear of death, of hell, of eternal loss, is the greatest of all fears – but for a Christian it is gone forever because the power behind this fear is sin. Sin is the very thing that Jesus’ death for us took away; becoming a Christian means trusting that, because Jesus rose from the dead, you now stand before God just as if you never sinned at all. There is no more ‘sting’ in sin or death for Christians (1 Corinthians 15:55-56). We have a sure and certain hope that our mortality has been defeated and that in Jesus we will share in a real future victory, which has been won for us, over the decay and frailty of our present lives and this world.

It really is so good to be a Christian. Trusting in this victory of Jesus gives confidence that whatever Christians go through in this life, no amount of trouble or hardship, no loss or danger, nothing in the present or the future, not even death, can stop Christians from having the greatest love now and the biggest and the best of “all things” in the world to come (Romans 8:31-39).

Why wouldn’t you become a Christian? Given how good Christianity is, given the singularly rare and wonderful blessings of Christianity, at least investigate it more and find out whether you are sure that you really want to miss out.

 

 

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