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Why I Am a Christian
Churches, I’ve observed, tend to be churches of one person of the
Trinity or another.
Some are Holy Spirit strong. Others Jesus or Christ-centric. Some
more oriented toward God the Creator. I grew up in a tradition,
Congregational, that was the third of these: oriented toward God
first person of the Trinity, sovereign and transcendant. Jesus was
more an example to be followed or emulated, and the Holy Spirit an
Of course, with time and maturity that has changed.
But still I remember my response when asked -- as a young adult --
“Why are you a Christian?” I hadn’t yet thought through or been
exposed to much theology at this point. I was still shaped by my
first person of the Trinity background.
I surprised myself with my answer. I said, “the Cross.”
What did I mean? Why did I go there? What was I thinking? The cross
said to me that human suffering is at the center of the Christian
faith and of life. Here suffering is not rejected, nor is it treated
as failure or aberration. Suffering, in all its dimensions, is
embraced. Embraced and held at the center of this faith, this story.
I had, as that young adult I then was, an almost visceral sense of
the necessity for any true or compelling faith to somehow face and
embrace human suffering. It is so easy to run away from or deny
suffering. It is so easy to blame it on the victim. So easy to
distance ourselves from suffering and those who suffer.
But the cross did not do any of that. Without words, the cross said
to me that God embraces suffering, as a part of the human experience
or condition. And God embraces those who suffer -- which is all of
This is Holy Week. Some will, as the preacher at our church said
Sunday, “pole-vault” from the “triumphal entry” story of Palm Sunday
to a triumphal Easter Sunday -- skipping over what is in-between.
But it’s the in-between that, as a young man and still today, rings
true for me. Suffering faced. Suffering held. Suffering embraced.
The point is not go seeking suffering. Nor is the point that the
more you suffer the better you are.
The point is that this “negative” part of the human condition is
embraced, given meaning and so redeemed in the cross. May yours be a
blessed Holy Week.