Late one morning in May of 1996, I stuck my head out of the window of James and Stephanie’s Manhattan apartment to get some not-so-fresh air while I drank my morning coffee. We were just getting up before noon after a long night of talking God and politics at an Irish pub called Peter McManus’ located somewhere around 20th Street. I looked down at the droves of people flooding the streets for the noon lunch break wondering whether it was possible for God to have a plan for each one of their lives as well as a concern for each one’s well-being.
Those questions may seem odd for one to ponder over morning coffee but they aren’t so strange for one who just weeks before had broken the chains of atheism that had bound him for so long. Just because I renounced atheism one day on the way out of a damp prison in Quito, Ecuador, did not mean I instantly became a Christian. That would not happen until years later when I recognized that a personal relationship with God was not only a possibility but an indispensable aspect of Christianity.
Since that time I’ve had the opportunity to share my faith with a lot of people. In fact, many people who read this column tell me to stop doing it. My awareness that it gets under their skin is the principal reason I continue. Christianity is not always comforting and those most annoyed with it are often the closest to conversion.
It should go without saying that I’m always pleased to hear when a reader turns to Christ. There’s no greater joy than hearing the good news that someone has accepted the Good News. By the same token, there is nothing more devastating than hearing of a reader turning away from Christianity. That happened to me recently when a fellow I once witnessed to said, “I still believe in God but I feel like he only intervenes in my life when he wants to (expletive) with me.”
The fellow who told me that also said he was not a “conservative Christian” like me but instead a “more liberal Christian.” He may or may not know that he’s on the verge of no longer being a Christian at all.
Perhaps the most accurate thing my reader has recently said about Christianity is that I am a conservative Christian. That conservatism is reflected in two things I believe to be absolutely certain about the life of a Christian:
1) I believe that - because we live in a world broken by sin and occupied by fundamentally flawed individuals - storms are inevitable. If all hell has not yet broken loose in your life it soon will. Chaos would not be so pervasive if people were as fundamentally good as the so-called liberal Christian deems them to be.