(* Reflection informed by Why Christian by Douglas John Hall and Simon and D.J. by Mark A. Olson)
A couple of weeks ago I asked the question, “Why Christian?” . Many wonder if this is even relevant anymore. What was the cause for each of us to be Christian? Were you born into a family that was Christian? If that is the cause for you to be Christian, why do you remain Christian?
For me I remain Christian, because I believe that the grace, compassion, justice, and love of God as taught by Christians makes the most sense for being in the world and for living into the future. I believe that there are many ways to experience God, but the stories of Jesus are the particular way that God makes sense.
So then, perhaps one might ask: Why Jesus? Why is he so important? Why is Jesus necessary? There are thousands of theological books and treatises that address this question. Yet, as I encounter many people on the campus who are not Christians and know nothing about this faith, I keep looking for ways to declare what my heart knows so deeply.
Jesus is the way to know God in the particular. He was a particular man who was born at a particular time. Jesus spoke to a particular people with a particular message declaring a particular truth. Jesus makes the idea of God a reality.
So here’s a weird analogy. Perhaps it’s like my dog Barkley. I can know dogs in general and have an idea of what dogs are like. Yet, Barkley is a particular dog. He is a gentle creature, seldom barks, prances when he’s walks and charms many people with his thoughtful eyes. He’s the dog I have, I love and feed. Through him I learn about dogs, animals and life in general because he is part of my life on a daily basis. Barkley makes dogs real. Barkley, a particular dog, helps me know that dogs are more than an idea.
Jesus is the particular man who reveals that God is more than an idea. When I grow in knowing Jesus, his teachings, work, healings and challenges, I grow in knowing God. Jesus in the particular makes God real and through this a relationship happens. Just like dogs become real because I have a relationship with Barkley, God becomes very real and profound because of the relationship I have with Jesus.
Please know that I’m not saying that Christianity is going to the dogs (sorry, bad joke). Yet, I have found this analogy helpful. What works for you? What would you say? Why Jesus?