I am a Christian. I grew up in a Christian family and I guess it is fair to say that I have, more or less, been a Christian pretty much all my life. But that does not mean that my acceptance of the faith was one that came naturally. In fact, quite the contrary. My journey of faith has been a rocky one, one that has been filled with much hesitation and pain. I have constantly questioned the God that I so profess to believe in, and no doubt will continue to do so. I have doubted Him, disowned Him and even downright rejected Him. But here I stand as a Christian nonetheless. I believe in God, and I believe in the Bible.
Before I get potentially bashed for my statement of faith, I would like to first make a few disclaimers. This article is by no means intended to be the stereotypical testimony of how a prodigal son rediscovered God in the midst of debauchery. My story on how I came to find and accept God, though eventful, is honestly quite plain and probably not worth a read. This article also is not intended, nor is it qualified, to be a robust defence of the Christian faith. Many before me, all of whom are eminently knowledgeable and needless to say, more well-informed on God than I am, have provided what I consider apt justifications and rationalisations of Christianity. Should you wish to read something along the lines of such, I suggest that you turn to the very enlightening writings of individuals such as Ravi Zacharias, John Piper and Oxford’s very own John Lennox.
I do not intend to engage myself in the grand ever-going debate on whether God exists. But rather, this article, quite simply, is the reflections and ramblings of a young Christian on what it means to be who he is, his continual wavering, or for want of a better word, his continual battle between acceptance and doubt, and ultimately how his faith shaped and will continue to shape his life.
It is admittedly very difficult to be a Christian, mainly because most of what the Bible preaches is so seemingly out of place with contemporary societal standards, or more specifically how we, as university students and young adults, typically go about in out daily lives. We’re supposed to observe the Sabbath (which is, in a secular term, Sunday) and rest? God, that’s impossible. I have two essays due the next day, and I can hardly afford spend my day meditating and praying. We’re not supposed to get drunk? Jesus, come on, then what’s the point having a night out at Park End? Men are not supposed to have long hair? Christ, come on, I just want to look good.
Being a Christian, at times, means alienation from the mainstream, or in milder terms, a withdrawal from what most people are doing. It seems that being a Christian often equates to being at odds with the rest of the world. The Bible acknowledges this by telling me that I ought “not [to] be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2), and consequently, “the world hates you” (John 15:19).
But what inherently is wrong with the world? Is there necessarily a dichotomy between being a Christian, and being a perfectly normal and ordinary member of society and of this world? The whole notion of being “set apart” from the world seems almost condescending.
As a Christian, I am expected by the big guy up above to be different. It is by no means easy. In fact, it never was meant to be easy. Having the Bible tell you that if you choose to follow the Lord, you shall be “persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12), is surely not an assuring thing to hear and accept. So am I supposed to just acquiesce to a life expectedly abundant with hardship? Am I supposed to just suck it and see, in return for some unseen divine reward?
Usually when I find myself asking these questions, which is most of the time, I turn to the powerful writings of Paul, a titan of a Christian, whose literary prowess, even from a secular point of view, is undubitable. As Paul puts it very aptly, I believe that notwithstanding it being difficult to abide my faith, all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). Though outwardly I am indeed having a difficult time, or as Paul puts it – “wasting away”, yet inwardly I am being renewed day by day.
One of the many reasons why I am and still remain a Christian is that the divine promise that it will definitely and surely work out towards the end is a very reassuring and comforting thought. I am constantly encouraged by the fact that I, however little I might think of myself, am actually a priceless gem, so to speak, in the eyes of someone much higher than us. He tells me, “You feel worthless? Don’t be. Just look at my hands, and look at my side. You are worth my life”.
I apologize if my article leads nowhere, as upon rereading it, I do realise that it is neither a justification for the faith itself, nor is it a compelling personal story of my journey of faith. I do not wish to gloss over some of the very powerful arguments put against Christianity, but that being said, I would like to conclude by saying this:
You are most certainly entitled to disagree with my faith. You might think that my faith is for the weak, for those who lack reassurance and stability, and for those who are unloved and isolated. However, I urge you not to categorically reject everything “Christian”. Heck yes, I admit that I am, indeed, weak, insecure in life and even clinically depressed. But that does not mean I turned to Christianity as some sort of “last resort” to “feel good”. If you are unconvinced with what you see of Christianity, fair enough – for such a conscious rejection ought to be respected. However, the same respect should be also levelled towards those who consciously and mindfully accept it. Approach Christianity with an open mind, reflect upon it, question it, challenge it even. I did that, made some very important decisions, and now I am and will continue to be a practising Christian.