Summary: I believe in Jesus Christ because: 1. He makes life work. 2. He is the only way. 3. I have experienced him. 4. He is Lord.

It was a beautiful summer evening in Shadyside, Ohio, where I had taken the youth group down to the Ohio River for our meeting. It was an interesting time, not only because we had fun talking and eating by the fire, but also because we had unexpected visitors. From across the river, at Mitchell’s Bar and Boat Club, a group of young men spotted the lovely young ladies in the group and began to make, what turned out to be, a long voyage across the wide and swift Ohio River. Trying to paddle a John-boat the way you would a canoe, the four young men made their voyage with two facing one way in the boat and two facing the other. Blame it on the Budweiser. Since they were paddling more against each other than with each other, they would go sideways, then backwards, then around in circles until you wondered if they would ever make it. And when they finally did, we wished they hadn’t. There was almost more beer in them than water in their boat, and as they got out they each carried a liter bottle of beer. They soon realized that this was not the usual gathering of young people along the river, and became very discouraged at their prospects for a good time.

Somehow they made their way back across the river, but it was not long until we had two more male visitors. We had just finished devotions and began to sing as they landed. One of them stayed in the boat, but the other one staggered in my direction. When he heard the Christian songs we were singing, he began to tell me his problems, even though he had never seen me before. This was his second marriage, he said, and it looked as though it was almost over. All they did was fight about his drinking and running, and he could not understand why everything was always going wrong in his life. His partner in the boat was getting more and more agitated, and they finally got in the boat and started back to the other side. We cleaned everything up and starting to get into the cars when we realized that we could still hear them, even though it was so dark we couldn’t see them any longer.

The boat they had was borrowed, and they had only gone a short distance when they turned the boat over. A dangerous place to be with all the barges going up and down the river. They swam toward shore, and when they got to the shallow part they started wading. We could just barely see their outline in the dark. They were trying to walk in the water and thick mud, but stumbling and falling into the muddy goo every few feet. They were completely soaked and covered with black mud when they finally reached us. One of the young men was crying, and the other looked deeply depressed — and they wondered out loud why everything went wrong for them. We drove them back across the river to the bar where their truck was parked, and wondered what would become of them.

The first reason I believe in Jesus Christ is because: He makes life work. That experience with those lost young men was a living illustration to the young people about how a life lived apart from God invites disaster. More importantly, it was a picture of how much people need Christ in their lives. But perhaps I was more moved by the experience than the young people in the group. It was as if something was again confirmed in me, and from deep within I said with new meaning and conviction: “I believe in Jesus Christ.” Every time I see people destroying their lives without him it reaffirms my faith and the veracity of it. When I have occasion to see what a life apart from Christ is like, or what a culture becomes which tries to separate itself from God, I am renewed with thankfulness that Jesus Christ is in my life. I have a new appreciation for his Word, and a new love for his ways. When I see Hollywood and television’s degrading view of life, and their cheap ideas about love; when I see the futility in the lives they live, I say again, “I believe in Jesus Christ.” These are experiences which make me stop and be thankful all over again that I am a Christian. It helps me to understand in new ways why I follow Jesus Christ and live for him. When I see the sickness of the world, and on the other hand see the health that Christ brings, I repeat the Apostle’s Creed with a new enthusiasm: “I believe in Jesus Christ.” I believe that he is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). I believe that he alone can bring satisfaction and meaning. I believe that to have him is to have life, and to reject him brings emptiness, dysfunction, destruction and despair.

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