Monday, January 18, 2010

Why am I a Christian?

In my Maronite Catholic Tradition, God is referred to as "Muhib Al-Bashar," which is Arabic for "Lover of People," or "Lover of Humans," or "Lover of Man-kind." The closest parallel we can make to this relation, is the love of a mother for her children, and we know from scripture that this falls short to the love of God for us.

When great religions compete for my soul in a direct or indirect manner, I admire the presence of what is good in them, and I confess that God communicates to many through them, and loves with his divine passion many who profess them, and many love him back.

Some like Hinduism and Buddhism are older than mine and have passed the test of time. They still appeal in their wisdom to the hunger of many people today, bringing them closer to enlightenment and humility in a tightly connected universe.

Some are newer than mine, like Islam, and give assurance and comfort to many in emphasizing the perfection of the Islamic Testament, descending directly from the mouth of God in the most beautiful miraculous poetic way. It appeals to many in projecting the greatness, transcendence, and providence of the one and only God, high above all, who gives eternal blessings to all who surrender to his will.

One religion, namely Judaism, gave birth to mine. It is the story of Israel the "first bride" and favorite of God. She confesses him as the creator of all. She witnesses to his adventures with her. How he loves her, walks and talks with her, gets angry and abandons her, regrets his anger and goes searching for her, brings her back to him, completely in love with her and passionate about her. She tells of his promises to her; promises that she trusts he will fulfill.

As I reflect on the mercy of God and give him thanks for his relation to all these people, the crucifix stands before me. Silent I become, and I understand in my heart and in my mind why I am for Christ and in Christ. A whisper says, "God became man;" the world shouts, "no way." A whisper says, "God died on a Cross;" the world says, "non-sense". A whisper says, "God rose from the dead;" the world cannot believe.

The wisdom of the world shouts back, "What kind of a foolish God would do such a thing?" "What does the eternal have to do with time, space, and human indwelling?" "Our God rises above crucifixion and resurrections." "Our God is not capable of love and other human emotions;" "Your God is so different than ours."

A voice says, "Why would the God of the universe risk the integrity of salvation by letting his story be told in weakness by human beings who contradict each other or at least emphasize their own distinct points?"

Yet God does not justify his ways. He inspires the common person to tell his story and the common person to be touched and to recognize him through the story. He wills that inspired human beings tell this story. It is like children telling a story about their mom's love for them while sitting all around her, and she is rejoicing in their excitement and is paying no attention to their faults in telling the story. For what is most important, the story of love between her and them, is coming through so clearly.

For those who value love above all else, God will speak to their hearts, and they will fall in love with the crucified one. They will fall in love with the lover of man-kind. They will fall in love with all man-kind since he tied loving him with loving them.

I am a Christian because I am in love with God who is also in love with me. In time I will learn to let him fully live in me so I may become like him a lover of man-kind. And there is no greater image of how to love than the crucifix.

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