The title of this blog may seem to be redundant, but there is a difference between why I became a Christian and why I remain a Christian. The foundation for the two remains the same, but as I have grown and matured in Christ I have gained a deeper and broader understanding of what my faith is all about, more on that in another blog.
My dad had retired from the Air Force, we lived in Land O Lakes, Florida, and I had been attending Tampa Bay Tech High School for almost three years. The year was 1975. My mom had decided that she wanted to go back to church and asked who would like to go with her, and being the good son (a term lovingly given by my sister-in-law) I said that I would go. We visited several churches over the next couple of months and out of the churches we visited one invited me personally to come to their youth group. I was somewhat tentative because there was a Christian group at school that I had visited once. They were the oddest group of people and if Christian teens were like that I wasn't sure I wanted to be associated with them. But I was encouraged to go and go I did.
I found the teens at this church very accepting, if not all them at least the few girls who kept talking to me. They were friendly and cute. I didn't go back the next week and one of them called to see how I was doing, so I went back the next week. My attendance for a while was off and on, and every time I didn't show someone would call.
I didn't have many friends. Having grown up in a military family we moved often and friendships were transient. Establishing close, long lasting relationships was impossible. I lived in a different county then my High School so I wasn't involved with anyone there or with school activities. I was into horses and the kids who had horses at the stables were younger then I was, nice, but too young to have as best friends. In a real sense I was lonely for friendship. What I found in this youth group were guys and girls who were my own age, "normal", and who seemed to genuinely care for more.
The youth group wasn't flashy. We sat in a circle while the Youth Minister talked about the bible. I don't really remember any of the studies we went through. What I remember is going to Fuddruckers for ice cream, being invited over to people's homes, going camping with the youth group, and starting a puppet troupe. I remember people who talked about loving Jesus who truly loved one another.
It wasn't that there weren't moments in my life that were fun and with people who were friendly. I remember times in Greece going camping with friends and family that are some of the fondest memories I have. But things in my family had deteriorated, and I was lonely.
When the Youth Minister talked to me about God's love it resonated deep inside. I connected with the message of a God who desired a relationship with me and was willing to go out of His way to make it happen. I knew I had sin, so admitting that wasn't a problem, and accepting a heavenly Father who was willing to forgive them through the sacrifice of His Son wasn't difficult. There were no philosophical or theological contradictions weighing on my mind. I wasn't conflicted with ideas of deception or manipulation. I was confronted with a simple idea and I chose to believe.
There will be some who will consider this a belief based on a weakness of character or a faith built on a need that happened to met through a church and could have be met through another organization. And I will admit that my faith began as subjective acceptance of a message that met a felt need deep within me. And it was a belief that served me well until I was met with a "crisis of faith." It was in this crisis of faith that I moved from Why I became a Christian to Why I AM a Christian. I'm just saying.....