Recently, I read an excerpt from a book recently written by Desmond Tutu, a well-known South African Christian minister. Many of his comments are challenging and provocative, but today I’d like to focus in on one point he makes very clearly: “the accidents of birth and geography determine to a very large extent to what faith we belong.” In other words, where you were born and who your parents are go a long way in determining what your own religious background is.
Now, this is not to discount the possibility of real change in people’s lives. History is full of examples of people who were raised in cultures and families hostile to Christianity but who discovered the truth and joy of a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. God is powerful enough to change the hardest of hearts – including those that are convinced that a spiritual path other than discipleship in Christ is correct.
My question is for you: if you are a follower of Christ, why? What’s your story? Where have you come from? Is being a Christian a conscious choice you have made, or is it something you have inherited from your parents or from your culture?
I was raised in a Christian home as the younger son of a Church of God pastor and his wife. I was raised in the church; we went to church every time the doors were open. I was exposed to Christianity from a very early age, both at home and in the churches to which we belonged. Some might say that I am a Christian because my parents are Christians and because I was raised to be a Christian. To some extent, that is probably right.
However, there came a time when I realized that my faith had to be my faith and not just something I inherited from my parents. That time came for me in college, and thankfully I came to the realization that following Christ really is the best choice – something in which I can actively involve myself for the rest of my life. I follow Christ consciously, grateful for my spiritual inheritance, but honest in my decision to follow him.
So where do you fall? Do you believe in Jesus? If so, why do you believe? What is your spiritual heritage? If you came to Christ without the benefit of family or culture, then ask yourself the same question: why did you come to faith in him?
Our stories of faith form who we are. These are the stories that we should celebrate, rehearse, and share with each other and with others. These give meaning to our existence and to our walk with the Lord. And remember this: your story of faith is still being written; growth and maturity are still part of God’s plan for your life.