Why I Am a Christian
By John McKinney
First, let me say that I do not think of myself as a particularly outstanding Christian. For that reason, I thank God that as Christians we are forgiven.
The reality is that if I had been raised in Palestine, I might be a Muslim. If I had been raised in China, I might be a Buddhist. Fortunately I was mckinneyraised in the United States and fortunately my parents started me in a Christian Sunday school.
Also, there is some reality to the statement that I am a Christian today because there were pretty girls at the Idlewild Presbyterian Church in Memphis. Moreover, it was fun to go to church. I also remember that there were very successful businessmen who gave their time as Sunday school teachers to help me know Christ. That was very impressive.
I also remember a special time late at night when I was alone in the courtyard of that church, when I felt the presence and power of God’s love.
The basic reality is that I am a Christian because God loves me. The fact that He loves all of you does not diminish the joy and excitement that He also loves me. He sent His son to this earth 2,000 years ago to tell me of His love for me. He does not love me because I am perfect or because I am special. He just chooses to love me with all my sins and imperfections. Thank God we can be forgiven. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16
Let me give you some background. When I was a young U.S. Navy officer in the Protocol office in the Pentagon, I thought I was pretty hot stuff. I went to two embassy parties a week; acted as Aide to the Secretary of Defense on one occasion. I almost worshiped power.
At the same time I went to church at the National Cathedral because they had a 4:00 PM service Sunday afternoon that was more convenient for a young man with things to do on Saturday night. The Lord was calling me in the midst of all this.
I followed my worship for power to Harvard University to the Business School and then to management jobs at IBM. I sat next to Chairman and CEO Tom Watson at a dinner and reveled in the glow of power. At the same time the most powerful force in the universe was calling to me… God calling with the power of LOVE.
I never found the power that I was seeking, not in the Navy, not in business. In fact, there were times in my life with I felt powerless. In fact, I am no different from those scared disciples who, after Christ was crucified, sat in a locked room because they were afraid of being arrested and crucified.
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Luke 24:36-39
God, our parent, raised Christ from the dead so that we would know of His love. He broke into history 2000 years ago with this startling event so that we might know. He broke into my life as a young man that night in the courtyard of that church in Memphis. He broke into my life many times since. It happened when my first wife died, in 2000, and I had to rely totally on my reunion group to sustain me. It happens every time I drive a New England highway and see the autumn foliage–the grandeur and magnificence of His creation!
Now I am beginning to understand that power is not important. What is important is to follow Christ as a servant, to be His disciple, and to help others know Him so that they may become His disciples.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit … remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 19-20
He is with me. . . . He loves me. And because He is with me and because He loves me, that is why I am a Christian.
This article first appeared in our Fall 2010 issue.John McKinney was the first president of the International Secretariat and currently serves as executive director emeritus for Tres Dias.