This is such a simple question that can start some of the most interesting conversations. “Why are you a Christian?” When I ask another Christian that, it often leads to better connection and some good stories. It breaks the ice, shows that you are interested in them. But consider how you would answer this question if a non-Christian asked it to you. Say your Muslim neighbor, or your staunch atheist coworker asked you this out of the blue. What answer would you give?
The Typical Answers
Typically, when asked “Why are you a Christian,” most of us are give some version of these common responses.
- 1. I was raised in a Christian home.
- 2. I had some kind of emotional experience, whether from the Bible, nature, or otherwise, that confirmed to me that God is real.
- 3. I experienced a dramatic change in my life, like God curing my drug addiction.
While these are not all bad answers, and we certainly do not want to be deceptive in our response, consider how these will sound to a non-believer. “So you only believe something because your parents taught it to you? You’re turning your brain off and relying on emotion? Are you sure that was God and not psychology?” More importantly, these are the exact same categories of answers you will hear from people of every other religion. Isn’t it a bit strange that our answers sound exactly the same as the Mormon missionaries passing through the neighborhood?
The Golden Opportunity to Share the Truth
This question does not get asked every day, especially by non-Christians. Don’t waste it. This question is essentially an invitation to share the gospel, handed to us on a silver platter. What gospel will you share? All three of those responses have something in common. They are all about you. I was raised. I had an experience. I was changed. Of course, the question is about why are YOU a Christian, so of course that would make sense. Though there is a time and a place to use a testimony, I always fear that it points to me, not to God. This is not about me. I don’t want to leave them with the option of saying, “I’m glad that worked for you,” and end the conversation.
Even if you manage to use your story to point to Jesus, there is still a missing element. Is it true? Paul tells us that if it’s not true, we are most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:19). My challenge to you is to make this a part of your answer. Have a confident claim that you are a Christian because you believe it is true. Not in a subjective sense, where it’s true for me, but you do you. True in the sense that Christianity would be true whether I believe in it or not. Don’t just tell your story. Tell THE story.
Why Are You STILL a Christian
How I personally answer this has ended up being a 2-part answer. Like many others, I became a Christian because I was raised by devout Christian parents. But that is not the end of my story. There comes a point where every believer has to face the question: Do I really believe this or am I just following what my parents believed? The question is not just not why you became a Christian, but why are you still a Christian. Are you only in it because of family tradition and your social life? Do you believe it is true, or merely practical? Yes I became a Christian due to culture, but I began examining the evidence and defenses of Christianity in my early adolescence. From the years of investigation, I believe that this is true, and that a strong case can be made for this.
The Scary Part: Follow Up Questions
There is one major consequence of using this answer. This answer begs for follow up questions. You have just made a bold declaration that Christianity is objectively true. The natural response is to ask, “Why do you think that?” At which point you are on the hot seat. Again, this is a golden opportunity to share the gospel, but to do so one must know and be able to make a case for that gospel. Is there evidence that God exists? How do you know Jesus really lived, and especially that he rose from the dead? Are you ready?
This is why we emphasize apologetics so much. Testimonies can be powerful stories and can be exactly what someone needs to hear. But they are not the be all end all of evangelism. We need to not only know Christianity is true but be able to show that it is true. That’s where evidence and apologetics steps in. Why are you a Christian? Peter told us to always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15). How will you answer?
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