How I Became a Christian
Like the process of becoming a poet, that of becoming a Christian was also a rather circuitous one for me. But my identification as a Christian is far more important than that of Poet and warrants some significant attention.
Ditching a Skin-deep Faith
I grew up in Sunday School, gained a rudimentary acquaintance with Bible stories, and had it somewhere in my head that I needed to please God.
However, any sense of needing to please Him was no more than skin deep, and when I went away to college and encountered teaching that undermined the Bible, it was easy to persuade myself that, if there were a God, we couldn’t know much about Him and needn’t worry much about it.
By the end of my sophomore year of college I had grown very discontented with the small private college I was attending and decided to transfer to the University of Colorado at Boulder.
During a brief visit home that summer before heading off to school in Boulder, a friend shared with me about becoming a Christian.
I responded that I was done with all that and that I regarded myself as an agnostic. She said, “Well, we’ll both be in Boulder this fall. If you ever want to go to church with me, give me a call.”
A couple of months into the semester at the new school, I was feeling very lonely and called her up and asked if I could go with her to church. “I don’t think I’ll like it,” I said, “and I’ll probably only go once.”
She chuckled and said, “I’ll pick you up.”
Friends and New Content
I was given a friendly welcome by the University Class at First Presbyterian in Boulder and kept going back to church. I was included in social times, and when my new friends invited me to attend an Inter-Varsity Bible study, I accepted that invitation as well.
One of the guys from church was in one of my English classes, and I noticed that he always had a fat little paperback book on top of his stack of textbooks. It was called, “Good News for Modern Man.”
One day in the University Bookstore, I ran across an end cap with a display of the same book, and I recognized it as the one Dan was always carrying. I was surprised to discover that it was a New Testament, but I decided to purchase a copy.
I began to read the gospels, and the book of Romans that we were studying in the InterVarsity study. I was open about my skepticism in the study, and I remember one evening asking the leader, “Well, can’t you just decide to believe anything you want to?” to which he responded with a very terse, “No!”
Romans was also the topic of a college retreat that I attended that spring, and the content that God was pouring into my life began to gel.
The speaker said, “I want you to forget everything you thought you knew about the cross.” I don’t remember much of what he said, but I remember his emphasis on Romans 5:8, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Somewhere in that time period…
… I also had begun to read John Stott’s wonderful little book, Basic Christianity, and I was finding that my convenient “intellectual objections” to Christianity had very good answers.
I slowly became convinced that there was good evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, and I was realizing that I didn’t have to get myself all polished up to come to God, but that He had reached out to me first.
The notebook is long gone, but I remember that in the break between spring semester and summer school at the end of my junior year of college, I copied a prayer of surrender out of John Stott’s book into my journal.
When I returned to campus for summer school, I was beginning to notice some changes in me that I knew I wasn’t deliberately making. I was beginning to experience the fruit of being born again.
I got into a Bible study in my dorm, kept going to church, and began taking baby steps in the faith, and years later I’m still on the journey.