Why I Became a Christian
My background, from birth to pre-High School
I grew up "outside" the Mormon church, meaning my parents had been in it, but, like so many of my relatives, had left it by the time I came along. This left me "blissfully ignorant" of any Christian influences (positive or negative) in my life.
I am part-Maori, and part-"Pakeha" (meaning non-Maori). In my case, I am of European (French and Scottish) descent. My mother and I moved around a lot after her divorce. This taught me the impermanence of relationships.
College (High School)
I experienced prejudice against my race for the first time at college. I learned to fight back, and after a while, my body size dissuaded anybody else from attempting any kind of racism to my face. This intimidation I was able to exert, played a factor in my acceptance at school.
Coming to university here in Wellington, my older sister was my inspiration. I’ll never forget, when, in my naïveté, I asked her what she thought of all this Maori Radical Activism, and student support of same. She responded "it’s amazing how, whenever anybody actually investigates the issues, they inevitably end up on the Maori side of the issue."
I took that attitude of scientific yet sceptical inquiry into the realm of Maoridom, and realised for the first time that there were real injustices and resolvable grievances there. Similarly, I gave a cursory investigation of religion and, like many of you, found it wanting, and thus rejected Christianity on the grounds of the external, observable religion.
Instead, the message I was getting from my family was that the only hope for an individual and his family’s "salvation" (being a happy life, through materialistic success) was Education.
I experienced the usual "freedoms" that you do when you’re away from home for the first time, with zero moral restraint. This freedom promptly translated itself into loneliness, which I filled in the time-honoured way of empty sex.
I guess you could sum up my life to this point by the expression "SNAG." SNAG stands for Sensitive New-Age Guy, and means a male who’s "in touch with his feelings, not a sexist, is tolerant towards all religions, is intolerant of bigotry."
I was also a seven-year practitioner of the Seido Karate style of martial arts. I didn’t realise then, but my New Age tendencies were actually just a reaction to the re-packaged form of Zen Buddhism I was getting. If you look, you will find an earlier post on why I quit karate.
The longest I had been able to hold onto any relationship was about nine months (due in part to the impermanence aspect of my up-bringing mentioned above).
After successfully completing my Information Systems degree, the new hope for salvation lay in the accumulation of wealth. So I formed my own company, which gave me a lot of fun, was unpressured, but was non-directional. I didn’t have anyone to whom I was accountable, so I had nothing left worth striving for.
Then I met Fiona. She was a back-slidden Christian, which as everybody knows, is the best combination a guy like I could hope for: good enough to be nice, but naughty enough to be fun. We began a semi-permanent pre-marital relationship, that I hoped would last, but I knew I would stuff it up somehow.
I found God (He found me?)
Actually, it wasn’t me that stuffed it up at all. It was her!
First, we attended the baptism of a friend of hers. So I’m there and challenge God in my head: "if You’re really there, make that man turn around and say something to me." Of course, the man doesn’t and so I leave perfectly satisfied there is no God (this was arrogant of me, don’t you think?).
Next, she began attending this "Basic Life Principles Seminar" that gave her answers to why she had left Christianity, and why she should come back. So when she came home one night and announced that she was thinking about re-evaluating her spiritual life, I promptly responded in the only logical, purely consistent manner possible. I informed her that if she was "considering putting JC ahead of me, then I couldn’t accept that, and we’d better just call it quits now." Wow! What a jerk I was, but to my mind, I was only being reasonable, and nipping in the bud, what I knew would eventually drive a wedge between us. Besides, I was hoping my ultimatum would snap her out of this crazy notion of hers.
Then I realised what had happened. I had challenged God to reveal himself, and He had responded in His own way and time, by taking away from me the centre of my universe. My Pakeha side wanted to curse God, but my Maori side knew He was too awesome for me to do that! I had nowhere to turn, and what was worse was that I knew she would have a church full of caring people offering to help her get over me!
Next, I read an article I just "happened" to pick up, written by the Student Christian Union. (BTW, I no longer believe in co-incidences — God did it.) This article clearly and scientifically disproved Evolution, and therefore by implication proved its only alternative (which is Creation). This was the first time my Pakeha side was willing to believe that there was a God, let alone which one. By the way, they call this brand of science "Creation Science." The particular principle to which I am referring is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Write me a Comment for a discussion about it.
The last thing that happened was that my newly rededicated Christian ex-girlfriend gave me a book titled "More Than A Carpenter" written by Josh McDowell. This is an excellent, well-written short book that explains that, based upon what Jesus said about himself (he undeniably claimed to be God), he can only be one of three things:
- Lunatic: He thought what he was saying was true, when it wasn’t;
- Liar: He knew what he was saying was false; or
- Lord: What he was saying was the Truth.
So I came to this point: Jesus was confronting me with the Truth about who He said He was, and I responded to it in, to me, what was the only logical, reasonable way. After all, as per my earlier scientific yet critical attitude, I had "investigated, and ended up on the Christian side of the issue."
I have never regretted making my decision to allow Jesus to be Lord of my life. Now Jesus is Lord:
- of the Universe — by virtue of creating it; and
- of my life — by virtue of His paying for it on the Cross at Calvary.
I have seen miracles occur in my life since then: God helped me to achieve a "four-point goal" I set myself:
- Find a true, Christian church, which believes in the Jesus of the Bible.
- Get baptised
- Get financially solvent (I lived with constant debt).
- If Fiona would have me back, propose and marry her.
I set myself a reasonable time-frame (I thought) of 12 months, but God enabled me to do it in nine! (And yes, Fiona did agree that God was saying we could get married, and so we are: 13 years in 2006! Also, I know with God’s help, this marriage will not only survive, but thrive!) Simultaneously, I set myself another goal, to undergo a "voluntary period of rapid indoctrination." In other words, I knew that I didn’t know the Bible, and I resolved to read it from cover to cover, in order to more fully understand my decision. This, God also helped me to achieve within the same 12 month period.
I asked a lot of dumb questions at this time, because I did not know Christianity at all. One of which I am rather proud is: since I believe that baptism is very important (from my Mormon background), then why don’t I join a Baptist church to get it done? So I did!
I also went through a phase of having too much enthusiasm, leading to a legalistic view of the requirements of God, which inevitably took me on a brush with a legalistic church. Which is why it was so important to find that Bible-believing church. There is no such thing as a perfect church, because they are all run by imperfect people. However, God is perfect, and His Word is true, so any main-stream, orthodox Christian church that believes in the Bible, can be good for a person like I am, to attend. We need that relationship with others, stronger than ourselves in the faith, in order to learn the difference between Truth and error. I thank God, that He taught me the lesson of "balance in all things" before it was too late. I was a "loose canon looking for an aiming mechanism" and now the Holy Spirit is my aiming mechanism.
Have you ever heard the expression, "the future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades"? In my case, it’s true. Working for the Lord, is all I want to do now, and so Fiona and I have undertaken Ministry training. We have vigorously supported the Future New Zealand Party (formerly the Christian Democrats – now United Future) here in NZ, and now have our third child.
So I guess my basic point is this:
While it is true that we worship a God who is Spirit, and therefore is outside the realm of the observable, physical universe, this doesn’t make Him unknowable.
I believe that we do not have to switch our brains off to be Christians. God is meta-logical, not illogical. Since making my decision, I have gone on to further study, but this time, Bible study, realising the Truth of the psalm: "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." I had Knowledge (remember my degree?). However, without God and His Word around which to anchor that knowledge, I did not have Wisdom. All my prior reasoning I had originally based on Relativism (which is the New Age), which is subsequently inferior and false compared to the provable Absolute Truth.
Turn to Jesus now. He is the Only Way to salvation.
Post a comment to me if this message has significant meaning to you!