Right before the Fourth of July holiday, my wife, my daughter, and I were buying fireworks. The Georgia legislature changed the law this year, and we can now buy the "good stuff" in our state rather than sneaking over to Alabama. A new fireworks outfit had opened up in a nearby strip mall, so we went to see what they had. As it turned out, this place was being run by a local church as a fundraiser for a mission trip they were planning. My daughter was chatting with a young lady who worked there, and through the course of the conversation, they discovered their mutual Christian faith and shared interest in mission trips.
Occasionally, when I run into a fellow Christian out in public, I may ask them a question about their beliefs. In this case, I asked the young lady, "So, you believe all this church stuff?" (My daughter rolled her eyes with a "Oh, here dad goes again" kind of look).
The young lady responded, "Well, yes, I do."
I responded, "So why do you believe in God?"
This started a back-and-forth conversation with me asking her several questions about why she believed in Christianity. Her responses started with general comments about "having faith", how God had changed her life, and that she just "knows" God is real. At one point, I pressed her and asked, "Well how do you know God is real?"
She responded, "Well, the universe had to come from someplace."
I finally let her off the hook and told her I, too, was a Christian, and we had a brief discussion about apologetics. I encouraged her to look into the topic a bit more because, as Christians, we are called to always be prepared to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus. She then said, "You sound alot like my dad" and indicated to an older gentleman at the front counter who was talking with my wife. As it turned out, he was the pastor of the church (and of course, her dad).
I walked over to where they were chatting, my wife introduced me, and said she had been telling him about my background and my interest in apologetics. (My wife is really cool like that). I shared a bit of my conversation with his daughter, and when I told him I had asked her why she was a Christian, he asked, "Well what did she say?" I gave her a summary of her responses, and he seemed a little disappointed. I did tell him she had a reasonably good answer in her comment about the universe.
Fast-forward to a week ago: My wife and I were out at dinner a few nights ago, and our waiter, a very nice, well-spoken, twenty-something, was wearing a cross necklace. I asked him, "So why are you wearing that necklace?"
"My mom gave it to me," he responded.
Smiling (you can say anything to anyone if you smile), I said, "That's good, but you didn't answer my question. Why are you wearing it? Does it have meaning for you?"
"Yes," he answered, "I'm a Christian."
"Ah," I replied, "So, why are you a Christian?"
He told me he had been raised in the church where he grew up in Hawaii, and he has faith in God. He also said something about how God has changed his life.
We chatted a bit more, and I told him I was a Christian as well. I mentioned the verse in the Bible (1 Peter 3:15) that tells Christians to always be ready to give an answer, and recommended a couple apologetics websites. I wrote down the web addresses for Stand to Reason, Reasonable Faith, and my blog site. He said he would check them out, and we parted ways (with a nice tip for this young waiter).
These two encounters are not the first I’ve had with teenaged and young adult Christians who struggle in articulating why they are Christian. I really believe that young people raised in Christian homes are Christian simply because that’s how they were brought up. Now this does nothing to prove or disprove Christianity (we don’t want to commit the genetic fallacy here). But it does show that Christian youth, and probably most Christian adults, really don’t know how to articulate their beliefs. And personally, I think parents and church leaders are the ones to blame (and I count myself among this crowd).
When someone asks me, “Why are you a Christian?” my simple answer is, “Because Christianity is true.” This of course brings the next logical question, “Why do you believe Christianity is true?”
The answer to this question is another blog post.