Silverton Evangelical Church

Am I a Christian? I'm not sure

OK, we've looked at some of the most common reasons why people think, "I am a Christian."

What might the reasons be for thinking, "Maybe I'm not a Christian?"
Let's look at the five most usual ones here...

I've never had a spiritual experience or a funny feeling

Sometimes people assume that if you want to be a real Christian, something spooky needs to happen to you. Not true! As we'll explain later on, a "spiritual experience" is often a very quiet thing. You won't necessarily feel any different; what happens in you is real, but at such a deep level of your being that it might not register in your emotions or your state of mind.

Then again, some people have a very dramatic conversion. God has made us all different, and he gives us the kind of experience that is best suited to our make-up and outlook.

So don't feel you have to have an arresting encounter with God, a vision of angels on a cloud, or whatever, before anything else can happen. In fact, many people who become Christians don't notice anything much until their friends start saying, "You've changed. It's a good change, we like it,  but... somehow you're different." Once that starts happening, you can be absolutely sure that God has really given you a new life!

 Some people have a dramatic conversion... but not all

I don't always live as I know I should

You and me both. And the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Christians aren't supposed to be perfect people - and it's tragic when people look at churches and think, "They all seem so sorted and contented. A messy person like me wouldn't fit in." That's so wrong. Christianity is for messy people - for those who know they can't make themselves right, and ask God to do what they can't.

It's been said that a church isn't a museum for saints... but a hospital for sinners. Hang around SEC for a while, and you'll find that's absolutely true!


 The church is a hospital, not a museum

I don't belong to a church and I haven't been baptised

Let's not get things in the wrong order here. It isn't belonging to a church that makes you a Christian. Instead, when you become a Christian, you also automatically become a member of the church of Jesus Christ, part of a worldwide family.

And so the smartest thing a new Christian can do is to find a church where he or she can live out that new family relationship, and start to explore the wonder of having new brothers and sisters all over the place. Belonging to the church is one of the most enriching experiences your life can offer - once you already are a Christian.

And baptism? Complicated subject - ask us about it. But again, it isn't something that makes you a Christian automatically, just because you've been "done". So don't rely on a baptismal certificate alone to get you through the pearly gates.

 Church membership comes after, not before

I do doubt some of the claims the Bible makes

That's pretty understandable. When you look at some of the hostile treatment that Christian claims get in our society, especially in the wake of writers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, anybody with a couple of brain cells would realize that you have to be questioning and careful about what you believe.

Now we think the whole Christian claim stands up to examination. But to become a Christian, you don't have to sign up to all the small print before you make your decision. You just have to believe enough to "call on the name of the Lord", as the Bible puts it. The dying thief who was crucified next to Jesus probably hadn't studied much theology, and had only the barest idea who Jesus was. But he believed enough to call out to Jesus for help... and Jesus said, "Today you'll be with me in paradise."

If you were drowning in the sea, and somebody threw you a lifebelt, you wouldn't ask questions about who had manufactured it and whether it conformed to European safety standards. You'd simply ask, "Do I trust it?"

 You have to trust a lifebelt just enough to be rescued

I get bored by religious services and prayers

Well, Christians do sometimes, too, so that doesn't necessarily rule you out. Please don't think that a Christian is somebody who just loves the smell of the polish they use in churches, and can't get enough of sitting around on a creaky uncomfortable pew in a draughty building. (Er, that doesn't describe SEC, by the way.)

But if you never get anything out of a church service, and prayers might as well be in Chinese as far as you're concerned, then right enough that could be a sign that you aren't a Christian yet.

Coming to church is a bit like sitting around in somebody else's house, listening to the family talking to one another and to their Dad. Because their concerns and interests have nothing to do with you, it soon gets mind-numbingly boring.

Once you're part of the family, though, things change dramatically.

 Not your style? Doesn't mean God doesn't want you

So where does all this leave you? The important thing to understand is: none of these things make you a Christian, or rule you out, by themselves. What makes you a Christian is something else. So what is it?

Here's what the Bible says about it.