I don’t know how many of you have read President Obama’s talk at the National Prayer Breakfast a few weeks ago. In that talk he told us how he came to faith in spite of not being raised in the active Christian household. And , no he was never a Muslim. Yes, his estranged father was at one time a Muslim before he became an atheist. Here is his account of why he came to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.
I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck – no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose.
I don’t believe that his conversion was anything out of the ordinary for many of his generation. They grew up with people who they perceived as trying to shove Jesus down their throats. So many of them had become numb to the old style of outreach by these shallow encounters. It was only by Christians acts of kindness over an extended period of time that made them understand the true love or our Lord. I don’t have any statistics but I believe that is probably how most conversions happen today. In other words they are most affected by Christians who show the Lord’s love in their lives in very practical ways and do so on a day-by-day basis. Christianity is not a spectator religion but is instead an action filled call to follow the paths of Jesus Christ. So, lets all get off the couch and start living our faith.