Why I Decided To Join A Church (And Get Baptized) » VSB

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Why I Decided To Join A Church (And Get Baptized)

(The Champ’s latest at EBONY on his recent decision to join a church.) 

I didn’t grow up in church, but I was surrounded by it. My parents weren’t regular attendees, so I wasn’t a regular attendee. But, I attended a Catholic middle school and college, and this combination of experiences—religion classes, mass attendance, playing Pontius Pilate in school plays, etc.—allowed me to learn about Christianity without being indoctrinated into it. Let me put it this way: I learned more about the last days of Jesus from watching Jesus Christ: Superstar (still one of my favorite movies) than from reading the Bible.

These experiences also set the foundation for the way I’ve come to be a believer. Although I “believed” in God as a child and young adult, this belief was theoretical. I believed in the idea of God, but not necessarily in God Himself, as I just wasn’t able to completely wrap my mind around the existence of a supreme, supernatural being.

I also realize that much of this belief was more do to familiarity than faith. Believing in God and being a Christian was just what people around me did. So, although I didn’t fully embrace it, I accepted it the same way little kids accept their parent’s explanations for why you need to do well in school before they’re even able to grasp why you need to do well in school.

Yet, as I grew older, smarter, met more people, read more books, traveled more places, tasted more foods, felt more pain, loved more women, breathed more air, and saw more things, it started to make sense for me. The Earth is too vast, varied, scary and, well, perfect for it not to have been created without a purpose. And, it took me knowing, seeing, and experiencing more to realize that I didn’t need to understand everything. More specifically, I didn’t need to understand why certain things happened (or didn’t happen) and why other things happened (or didn’t happen).

I realize this might seem like a strange and semantic way to come to a spiritual understanding, but this is how it had to work for me. It had to make intellectual sense before it made spiritual sense. And, while I recognize there’s no way of knowing God’s ultimate plan, a glance outside my window lets me know a plan exists.

This understanding has not been easy. For instance, last year I blacked out during a completely irresponsible, reckless, stupid, and dangerous attempt to drive while drunk. I also had two friends in the car with me. We’d been drinking at a club, and we decided to hit a 24 hour diner afterwards. The next morning, the memory of the drive was completely gone. Today, almost a year and a half later, it’s still not there.

We all could have very easily died that night. While I’m (obviously) glad we all made it home alive, it didn’t make any logical sense that I’d make it out unscathed while people in much less dangerous situations regularly meet tragic ends. I eventually stopped trying to make sense of it when I came to understand that it won’t make any literal sense, and this process of accepting that some things will just be beyond my comprehension has been a struggle.

(Read the rest at EBONY)

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Arielle

    Champ, you’ve been on a roll. Although I did grow up in church, I went through a very similar question/answer period with my faith as well. Your reasoning for faith is logical, and it makes sense. I think when we try to over “spiritualize” religion, it becomes abstract and hard to relate to. Especially as a scientist, I love my cold hard facts! What has helped me is to realize that if God could create this world, he’s gotta be a pretty logical character. We should have a reason for our faith, which requires having our own personal spin on a relationship with a God who loves us individually so much. Everything I read and study now, I look to make it practical in my life and how to take steps toward being more like Christ everyday. Thanks for this, awesome piece!

    • Secretsquid

      Me too. Creation and order in the universe seems to require a creator. Some even believe there is a “multiverse” and we are adjacent to one.

  • Secretsquid

    Good for you! I was baptised at birth, raised a Catholic but I’m not religious. I still pray though.

  • Sigma_Since 93

    I’d give you a man hug if you were in front of me right now! SO happy for you man.

  • Billy Bahb

    This is one of few blogs from Champ that left me looking for the evidence leading to the article’s conclusion. Perhaps because I view this site as one of 8.4 places I can get affirmation as to what my future as an older “very smart brotha” looks like, any tale w/ baptism in the headline makes me hope for that long-sought-after reason to trullllllyyyy believe. Maybe I just haven’t read closely enough, but I thought Champ was a fellow sojourner along my current church journey: we go, but we spend the whole service questioning our presence, the existence of pain, and why the preacher has to yell.

    Not that I don’t believe in God…I’m just not certain Christianity is the only path to Him/Her/Shim?
    I’m in the doubly awkward position of playing in the music ministry and being paid by the church.

    That said, i’m happy you’re happy. And I don’t mean that in an internet’ing passive aggressive way…truly the decision to accept something reported as so life-changing is something I wish I could experience anew. Maybe one day, the older, very smarter’er version of me will.

    • Secretsquid

      Too many religions out there. We don’t choose a region , it chooses us based on our life circumstances.

  • OSHH

    :-)

  • I have yet to find sufficient words to express and explain my Christianity online, probably because I feel in flux in real life. I grew up in church, quite wedded to not only religiosity but also a relationship with God. I broke up with my denomination around 18 and it has been a ragged climb back to faith. I think I have missed that “right” feeling since. So I can definitely tell you that I am happy to hear you have found a place with the Most High that strengthens you. Congratulations on your baptism!

    • That’s interesting that you say that. Only one of my grandparents had more than a middle school education and by intellectual standards, weren’t educated. But even with their limited knowledge and exposure they were able to grasp the concept of the Lord being the creator of heaven and earth without any scientific proof.

  • Joanna

    I love reading about people’s personal journey’s with Christ. God allows us to go through so many things specifically for His glory and the ability to relate to other people. Thanks for sharing, Champ! It was greatly edifying. And good luck on your walk. One of the best things I’ve learned is that Christianity is not about me. It’s about a relationship with God. Once I stopped trying to call the shots, peace and understanding became so much easier.

  • The hardest thing for an intellectual to do, is to let go of the belief that something has to make sense all the time. I am a Christian and a semi-regular church goer, I have no problem admitting that I am not the perfect christian nor do I try to fake it. Since I started reading the bible from the front cover two years ago, I’ve come to realize that somethings don’t make sense to me, atleast not by today’s standards. So instead of trying to make a triangle fit into a circle, I just accept that, that’s a part of the Lord’s plan. He doesn’t have to answer to me, I have to answer to him.

    • Arielle

      True, I am often the same way, however I find that many people are hard to reach with telling them to just “let go and let God”… as intellectuals we often pride ourselves on reasoning so when someone presents an idea and tells us to throw away reason, our pride kicks in and we find it insulting, and as a result shut down. I think its important to have strong trust in the unknown, but finding that happy medium usually comes after the initial reasoning that God is all knowing and that His plan for this earth is way beyond our thinking.

  • Msdebbs

    I grew up in church and kinda strayed away for a while but I never really lost my faith. I’m just happy God gives us all free will. I wish people would respect each others religious beliefs weather you have one or not.

  • I honestly think that intelligence and spiritual belief are too different things. It doesn’t matter if you are educated or not, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the sun rises and set and no matter of logical thinking can change that. Basically you don’t have to be logical to be a believer, you can’t out think spirituality.

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