Last weekend one of my student friends, Alison, got baptised at our church, and during the service she shared her story. It was only a couple of minutes, but as she looked out at her new church family and spoke you could tell it was right from the heart. I found it deeply, deeply beautiful. See what you think...
Christianity is just something people used to believe, right? It’s not something we need to think about anymore, and the people who do would believe anything they’re told. That’s the attitude I had starting from about age five when my mother told me that Jesus wasn’t really the son of God. For me and all the other default agnostics surrounding me, it seemed we had figured out one key truth about the universe – that there was no God – and everything else, like the terrifying finality of death and the implications of living in a universe without good and evil, could be left to look after itself.
When I reached university, I didn’t want to push those questions aside anymore. It seemed like there was no purpose or direction in the world, but everyone was making things up as they went, and I didn’t want the universe to be like that. Thanks to some persistent inviting by my friends, I started going to Christian Union events where they were actually addressing the issues which everyone else was ignoring. I went in expecting to disagree with everything that was said, but to my surprise found that the Christians had thought things through. They pre-empted a lot of my objections and gave me some of the evidence which I value as a history-slash-literature student. It was news to me that it’s possible to be both a Christian and a rational thinker.
This began a process which lasted several months. First, I wanted to get at what Christians actually believe, separate from the vague impressions I had absorbed growing up. I began reading the Bible and other Christian books, and talking through my objections, and even went to church to find out what it was like – then kept going back. Bit by bit, I became convinced that there was a God. Not only is the historical evidence for the events at the cross pretty good, but more importantly, this feels like a universe where things like love and justice exist, and those things don’t make any sense without something that exists beyond and outside of us. But it took a long time to admit that out loud, and even after I did, I was determined not to become a Christian.
It’s been almost a year since I finally gave in. No-one ever promised this would be easy, and in some unexpected ways it’s made things harder. When I’m with my non-Christian family or friendship group, there’s a contrast between the inside of me where God is increasingly becoming the centre of the universe, and the outside where he isn’t even real at all. But his existence isn’t dependent on our attitude to him. He’s there, which means that I don’t exist at random, and that is so precious and exciting that I have no choice but to give my life over to him. There’s no part of myself that I don’t owe, and there’s nothing else that could be worthy of giving it to."