I was bereft of ideas as to what to write (which happens from time to time). I did my usual trick of asking my wife if she had any thoughts that I could cack on about. She did not. So, I turned to the rest of my family. My son had nothing too. My daughter, however, did have an idea: why be a Christian? I liked that idea. So, here it is – why be a Christian?
Obviously, there’s no point in believing stuff that isn’t true. Ultimately, the reason I’m not an Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or Sikh is because I do not think they are true. I do not find their claims to truth and their understanding of how the world came to be as compelling as the Christian worldview. I find the Biblical account of human history and its understanding of the human condition to be more cogent than the alternatives. I find its claims about God – his plan and purpose in creating the world – more credible than anything else. I find, particularly, the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be beyond reasonable doubt and, as a result, find stronger evidence for the claims of the Bible. In short, I am a Christian because I believe it is true.
If I am right, if Christianity is true, then it makes a lot of sense to believe in Christ. It makes sense to stake everything on its claims because what it says is true. It is perverse to believe what we know for certain is false. But as I look into the truth claims of Christianity – and it is interestingly a religion that gladly welcomes scrutiny of its claims and builds means of doing so into itself – I find them to be true. That is, in my book, a good ground to be a Christian – it is true.
Purpose and meaning
If there is no God, it has been shown well enough that there is no ultimate purpose to anything. Atheists and Christians alike agree on at least this point. A universe with no God has no ultimate purpose or meaning. There is only me and my subjective mind and you and your subjective mind creating our own subjective meaning to which neither of us can lay claim to any superior ground. There is no ultimate value to anything, just cold, sheer indifference.
But many of the alternatives that posit the existence of god (or, gods), meaning still remains difficult to come by. There is often an explanation as to how the god(s) made the universe and everything in it, but there is rarely much ground as to why they did so. Even less is there much explanation as to why human beings in particular were made.
Christianity, however, offers both. The Westminster Shorter Catechism sums it up: the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. God made us so that he could enjoy a relationship with us and we could enjoy a relationship with him; so that he would be glorified in us and we would be glorified in him. Christianity posits a reason why we are here and gives meaning and value to our existence. It imbues human existence with real value – being as we are made in the image of God – and it gives us clear reasons why we are here, why we are the way we are and what we can do about it. Being a Christian brings us meaning and purpose.
The Bible is full of references to happiness and joy. The Lord does, ultimately, want us to be happy. Notice even the words of the shorter catechism, we were made to glorify God and enjoy him. The reason those two things stand together is that God knows that in his glory is our joy. Serving his glory is what serves our highest good.
Everybody, at the end of the day, wants to be happy. But if our happiness rests on something we might lose – our money, our home, our family, our life, whatever – it seems we are on a hiding to nothing. But if our happiness and contentment rests on what cannot be lost, that seems to be a wise decision. Christianity points us to where true happiness can be found.
We can take this further. If you buy a new laptop or table, for example, there is nothing stopping you take it out into your garden and using it as a baseball bat if you want. You might even have a bit of fun knocking a few balls over the garden fence with it for a while. But the fact it, you are not using that laptop to its full potential. You would have far more fun and enjoyment from it by using it in the way it was created to be used. What is more, using it as a baseball bat is likely to end up breaking it altogether.
Like that, if there is a God who created the universe, it seems foolish to try and live in the world he created by ignoring him and his means of living life to the full. Sure, you can do things your own way for a while. You might even have some fun while you do it. But it is entirely likely that you will not be enjoying your life to its full potential because you will be living it in a way it was never created to be used. Worse, you may end up making a real mess of it – a bit like using a laptop as a baseball bat. But being a Christian is to turn to God and say, I am going to live my life in the way you created it to be lived. It is to say, it seems wise to live in line with the instructions of the one who created the universe we live in and who gave us life. The one who wants to have a relationship with us, who wants to give us life to the full, the one who wants us to be happy. Just as I wouldn’t so much as put an Ikea flatpack together without following the designers instructions, why would I attempt to live my life without following the designers instructions? That, to me, seems like good grounds to be a Christian.