Faith Matters

Rev Andrew Watson: Why am I still a Christian?

When so much of the world is built on shifting sands, the Rev Andrew Watson says he finds security on the solid ground of God

Prayer is a common response to traumatic events, such as this man bowing his head at a prayer service in a Florida church following last month's mass school shooting in Parkland. As Andrew Watson observes, "even if the only prayer I manage to articulate at times is 'Dear Lord, please help', I will not stop calling on God for strength, guidance and inspiration." Picture by AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
Andrew Watson

WHY am I still a Christian? After so many disappointments, atrocities and failures, with all the painful questions that they bring. Why?

Bottom line: because I need to be.

Because I would frankly be scared to try and live these days without help from beyond myself.

Even if the only prayer I manage to articulate at times is "Dear Lord, please help", I will not stop calling on God for strength, guidance and inspiration.

Does that sound a bit sad?

Not half as sad - and dangerous - as the alternative.

OK, so I too wonder why God does and allows some things to happen; I admit some religious people are pretty horrible and some secular folk are just lovely; and I often wish the church was better than we are in so many ways.

But in choosing to believe evolutionary theory over creation, the world not only defies common sense but rejects absolutes and establishes survival of 'the fittest', with its resulting culture of rape, abuse, slavery and murder. I want no part of such a culture.

I still believe intelligent design is the most rational explanation for what we can observe and measure, and that reverence is the more positive, healthy and safe life choice.

I can celebrate the beauty with thankfulness to the One who rejoices to create it.

In replacing the real, heaven-sent saviour with man-made 'superheroes', the world idolises itself, proudly burning its boats and bridges regarding salvation 

In choosing to worship image over reality and gift over giver, the world sells its soul in a greedy, self-deceiving scramble for power, popularity and stuff that won't last.

I'm as tempted by it all as the next person but knowing the frustration of dissatisfaction I want to be content with less.

Deep in my soul I hunger to be happy simply in knowing I am loved, forgiven and can be of some service to my Master and to others.

Such are the seeds of practising righteousness. I catch a glimpse sometimes, a brief taste, and know this is the path worth pursuing.

In replacing the real, heaven-sent saviour with man-made 'superheroes', the world idolises itself, proudly burning its boats and bridges regarding salvation.

I'm a woeful disciple at best but I refuse to reject my Lord and inspiration Jesus Christ - the King of kings who humbled himself to death that I might live. And live then I shall, in his service, by his grace.

The Apostle Paul testified thus: "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:8).

Or again: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst" (1 Timothy 2:15).

Paul's words are echoed in this 21st century quote from Pope Francis: "I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ."

It all comes down to Jesus.

As another believer - Martin Luther - put it around 500 years ago: "Here I stand, I can do no other. So help me God."

Here we stand, and find ourselves on solid ground, thanks be to God.

  • The Rev Andrew Watson is minister of the Presbyterian congregations in Dunfanaghy and Carrigart in Donegal.
  • He is the author of Finding Our Way Home: Prayers and Reflections for Our Journey in Christ, published by Veritas and on its suggested reading list for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August..

Finding Our Way Home: Prayers and Reflections for Our Journey in Christ, by Andrew Watson, published by Veritas

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