I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. – C.S. Lewis; Mere Christianity
I grew up in a Christian environment, my parents were active in church, my dad a preacher, my aunts and uncles all leaders and teachers in the church. We went to church many times a week, I’ve been involved one way or the other, a part of the Sunday School, youth groups, singing, I was involved in the Christian culture. However, that phrase, “in not of” didn’t apply to me, I didn’t really live IN the world, I lived in a Christian bubble.
As a child, when I decided to give my life to Christ it was an easy decision because that was all I knew. I was young, I thought about it, it felt like the right thing to do and I did it. Then, I moved to New York.
Moving to NY was a culture shock. For the first time I was exposed to a different culture. Life in NY is faster and harder than life where I grew up. The lifestyle we had there could not fit into the lifestyle of a NYer and in the process of adapting I met people who had no religion, many because they never grew up in any religion, and many more because they grew up in a church and decided it wasn’t for them.
With the latter group, I have asked questions, why did you leave the church? There were many answers, too strict, burnt out, but a big one was never really believing what was going on because their parents send them or took them to church. Some believed that Jesus was real, but they don’t believe that he is the Son of God, be it historical reasons – many leaders were called Sons of god during that time – scientific beliefs or personal reasons. One other thing that I found amazing was that they thought he was a good guy, or just another prophet. However, I can’t really think of anyone who told me flat out that Jesus was a madman or a liar and I wonder about that. Was it that they were being polite? Or did they just not think it through?
Which brings me to the quote above. Jesus wasn’t just “a good guy” or a “prophet” he was either a lunatic, a liar or the Lord he claimed he was. He didn’t give us an out, we either had to accept what he said – all of it – or else we throw him into a cell (padded, or not). Given my background, I’ve grown up thinking of Jesus as Lord. When I was faced with all these different options I stuck to my original beliefs, not because I didn’t want to back down, or change courses, but because I have witnessed in my life that Jesus is Lord and what might have started off as a thing to do because it was what I knew had turned into a thing to do because it’s what I believe, deep inside. It is the reason I am a Christian.
After these encounters I decided that I needed to take stock. I needed to make a list in my head, to keep it at a ready for when doubts decide to come up. I needed to list the things that formed my belief, the reasons I believe because doubt is tricky. Doubt starts like a small trickle that slowly erodes our faith and I didn’t have room for this. There was one story that I wanted to write here, a story of a time I was so sick that I was doubled over with pain so unbearable (and I have a very high pain threshold) and how the healing of that sickness happened. However, in light of some recent events, I want to talk about another story, another sick person.
Last Sunday I was in church leading worship. During a break (announcements) one of my aunts whispered that my dad said his face is tingling. Immediately I knew we should pray for him before he preached, “my dad is having a stroke.” I thought. We prayed for him before he preached and after – at his request. I was looking at him the entire time, he looked fine. Later that day I received a text from my sister, “We are taking dad to the E.R.”.
As I was driving to the hospital, with tears streaming non-stop, I prayed, probably harder than I’ve ever prayed in my life, the general cry was “God you have to heal him. Devil you cannot touch him.”, my voice was just one voice that was lifted up for my dad, my prayer just one of the many. The thing is, two days after, my dad is home, he’s doing well. The results were a minor stroke, but there is no damage. People might look at this and think that it wasn’t a big deal, he’s fine, the thing is, I knew, somewhere deep down, that it was a bigger deal than it turned out to be. I knew that without those prayers we’d still be in the hospital today. I cannot logically explain it to you, all I can think of when I try to explain it is this:
… Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; … The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:14-16 [emphasis mine]
Maybe I’m too close to the situation to be thinking rationally, perhaps I’m just exaggerating, but I don’t believe either of those things are true. What I do believe is, Jesus is Lord and he stands by his word. This is just another story to add to the long and growing lists of things that have happened to strengthen my faith in Jesus. This is why I am a Christian.