Christianity is Harder Than We Pretend it is

Why we need to admit the difficulties of following Christ.

We make a lot of pitches with Christianity.

"It's a free gift."

"The peace and satisfaction your heart desires."

These are the expectations we set. And expectations help preface either disappointment or fulfillment.

Unfortunately, for many Christians, the reality of faith is a shocking letdown compared to the false premises that were guaranteed them by pastors, churches and other believers.

As people obsess over church attendance, burnout rates and demographic changes within Christianity, we become infatuated with solving today’s problems—determined to find the perfect fix.

Thus, we analyze church traditions, styles, techniques and theologies and wonder why the popularity of Christianity rises and falls and fluctuates. And while we scour the current state of Christianity and desperately try to improve, fix, troubleshoot and ultimately enhance it, we neglect to look at the very start of the problem: Pre-Christianity.

As Christians, we sometimes mistakenly try to compensate for God by presenting our faith as better than it really is. We cover up the ugliness and hardship of authentic faith.

Before people give their lives over to Christ, before they commit to regularly attending a church, before becoming a full-fledged member of a denomination, before being baptized, before taking communion and before diving head-first into the Jesus movement—what are they really searching for? What are they expecting to get out of Christianity? More importantly, what are we selling?

Too often, when people are expecting—and want—to meet God, churches instead present an illusion, a tempting escape from reality.

Surprisingly, many people don’t reject Christianity because they’ve given up on God. Instead, they’ve given up on the people and things that represent God. They don’t hate Jesus, they just become tired of not finding Him within Christian culture.

As Christians, we sometimes mistakenly try to compensate for God by presenting our faith as easier than it really is. We cover up the ugliness and hardship of authentic faith.

But while following Christ is beautiful and worthwhile, disappointment, pain, suffering, betrayal and hurt are also a part of life, and Christians aren’t immune or excluded from these horrors. Contrary to a life of ease, comfort and luxury, following Jesus demands sacrifice, honesty, vulnerability, conflict and a lifetime dedicated to loving others. This is really hard—a commitment not meant to be taken lightly.

Though not ideal, gossip, lies and disappointment happen within any group of Christians. Christians sin. They make mistakes. They can sometimes be ignorant, clueless, clumsy, mean, hateful and even downright horrible.

Unfortunately, many believers are afraid to admit this. We Christians have become experts at putting up a facade of happiness and bliss, pretending that nothing bad ever happens.

We assume that if people find out things aren’t all right—that our lives are actually chaotic, messy and out of control, that our relationships are broken, our feelings hurt and that we’re filled with worry and pain—they’ll get scared away. So we hide these things with the mistaken belief that we’re glorifying God—protecting Him from bad press.

But in doing so, we dishonor God and set ourselves up for failure.

Christians need to start communicating reality and start owning up to our mistakes, doubts, failures, insecurities and pain. It’s healthy to apologize, admit our wrongdoings, and even allow ourselves to question, doubt and change our opinions and beliefs.

Christians need to start communicating reality and start owning up to our mistakes, doubts, failures, insecurities and pain.

We need to leave room for being angry, mad, scared, depressed and anxious within churches, and must stop promoting the expectation that Christians always have to have it all together. We don’t. Believers need to quit presenting themselves—and Christianity—as perfect and should start being genuine.

Yet many churches market Christianity as an easy and painless solution to all life’s problems. Instead of introducing Christianity as a path to having a relationship with God requiring time, energy, work and intense dedication, it becomes a product that promises much without hardly any sacrifice.

Having this mindset causes our expectations to become superficial. Baptisms, prayers of faith, and declarations of solidarity to God become nothing more than posturizing—little, if anything, actually changes within our everyday lives.

In fact, we actually expect things to get favorably better for us. We assume God will shine down divine blessings: salary increases, better parking spaces, health improvements, increased social popularity and championships for our favorite sports teams. We want our faith to work for us—not the other way around.

Top Comments

Joshua Hart

3

Joshua Hart commented…

"What are they expecting to get out of Christianity? More importantly, what are we selling?"

That is a telling statement. That Christians are even "selling" anything in the first place is a non-starter for sure. The salesman approach to Christianity assumes Christianity is a solution to a problem, a thing which can be sought after to solve something that's gone terribly wrong. You're right, faith in Christ does not absolve one from the trials that come this side of heaven. If anything, trials will increase all the more. But, it's the hope of something better, something eternal, that creates joy amidst suffering, and hope amidst tragedy.

Christianity isn't a new vacuum cleaner, it's the hope of knowing and experiencing God.

Margaret Nahmias

36

Margaret Nahmias commented…

I watching a sermon about suffering by John Piper While agree tha suffering is part of the Christian whether preach in hostile areas or struggle against his flesh, I believe the motive for our belief and alleganice to Christ should be about reciporating his love and not just reward. If we just look to the heavenly rewards are not be just as greedy as the one who look to earthly ones. And since they are so distant is easy to lose sight of them.

44 Comments

Princess Luna

53

Princess Luna commented…

Christianity is only hard in that it's designed to reject any critical thinking. Why do you think science so often disagrees with the bible? Is it because the scientists are just brainwashed by the devil? Don't be absurd. It's because the bible was written back in the bronze age by anonymous authors over the span of hundreds of years back when people still worshiped the sun.

The reason why it's getting harder to be a Christian, if it is at all, is because more and more people are turning away from religion based on the absolute lack of evidence that any of it is real. While our scientific knowledge is incomplete and imperfect, it's the best understanding we have at this present time. Using the bible as truth simply because you fear hell (which isn't real), distrust people, or because of the promised rewards is foolhardy and irrational.

Krista Cummings

4

Krista Cummings replied to Princess Luna's comment

He is real :) He is so 100% real. Don't you think, being that there are so many people on this planet who will testify that they truly KNOW God is alive and He's living on the inside of those who know Him, that a God has to exist? How could you possibly think that all the people on this planet are faking it, if each and every one of them is able to say without a doubt that they know God?
And just for the record, it's only going to get harder to be a Christian as time goes on. Because more and more people will continue to reject that He exists and mock Christians for their beliefs. Christians aren't popular or cool in this world, and there's a reason for that. But it's okay- God's people, the ones who truly KNOW Him and have Him in their hearts and have an amazing and true relationship with Him- those people win in the end. And we want EVERYONE to be a part of this. We want everyone to have the eternal gift God has promised to those who can live out their faith against the devil, who literally prowls around trying to make anyone believe the lie that God isn't real.
This isn't meant to be an argument. After all, it's completely understandable that you don't think God is real or the devil, or the Bible is authentic, or heaven and hell exist. You haven't had your eyes opened yet. Satan is real, and he wants to make God seem like a joke. But when there are so many people on this planet who truly 10000% will say that they KNOW God is real, how could you possibly say there's no evidence? Why would billions of people on this earth simply pretend? You really think ALL of them are just saying it to get attention?

Princess Luna

53

Princess Luna replied to Krista Cummings's comment

I would have replied earlier, but I didn't even see this until now. Let's get to it. I will quote everything you said and respond to it below:

"He is real :) He is so 100% real. Don't you think, being that there are so many people on this planet who will testify that they truly KNOW God is alive and He's living on the inside of those who know Him, that a God has to exist?"

Absolutely not. Truth is not based upon numbers alone. Besides, just because you believe he has made himself known to you doesn't make that automatic proof to me, who has felt no indication that he's real whatsoever.

"How could you possibly think that all the people on this planet are faking it, if each and every one of them is able to say without a doubt that they know God?"

First, only a rough third of our entire population is a Christian. Besides that, the largest reason anyone is a member of a certain religion is due to culture. If you were born in India, you'd most likely be a Hindu.

"And just for the record, it's only going to get harder to be a Christian as time goes on. Because more and more people will continue to reject that He exists and mock Christians for their beliefs. Christians aren't popular or cool in this world, and there's a reason for that."

It's called science. Religions are dying out in the modern world because we know more about the universe than the people who wrote those holy texts. And no, people don't always get science right, but reverting directly to god instead of trying to configure the error is faulty. The basic motto of scientists is: 'We don't quite know, so let's find out.' It's not, 'Let's mock Christians because we hate god.'

"But it's okay- God's people, the ones who truly KNOW Him and have Him in their hearts and have an amazing and true relationship with Him- those people win in the end. And we want EVERYONE to be a part of this. We want everyone to have the eternal gift God has promised to those who can live out their faith against the devil, who literally prowls around trying to make anyone believe the lie that God isn't real."

Or, you can be like me, who doesn't believe that a devil exists. Perhaps the main reason why some people openly mock religion is because of things like that. I find it absurd to live one's life based on a belief that some lurking manipulator is doing his all to prevent one's soul from living for eternity in some ethereal dimension that has neither been observed or indicated outside of Bronze Age text.

"This isn't meant to be an argument. After all, it's completely understandable that you don't think God is real or the devil, or the Bible is authentic, or heaven and hell exist."

And your proof that these things are real is where? The one making the claim has the burden of proof. Heaven is real? God is real? Prove it without resorting to logical fallacies.

"You haven't had your eyes opened yet. Satan is real, and he wants to make God seem like a joke."

Honestly, the bible made him seem like a joke to me. Satan, were he real, had nothing to do with it. I wasn't brainwashed by some Atheist liberals in a public high school. I became an Atheist from within my Christian school and among 'Christian friends.'

"But when there are so many people on this planet who truly 10000% will say that they KNOW God is real, how could you possibly say there's no evidence? Why would billions of people on this earth simply pretend? You really think ALL of them are just saying it to get attention?"

Once again, truth is not, NOT, based on numbers alone. And no, I don't believe every religious person is religious for the sake of attention. I find that not being religious would gain far more attention.

I'll add this one last thing here: Say I were really serious that there was a Unicorn Goddess that was invisible, silent, yet all powerful and ever-present. I told many others and they all believed me. They'd pray, and she'd continue to be a silent, yet loving deity that we all firmly believed in. She has the same amount of proof your god currently has, and people say they've had miracles.

You, unlike me, are not convinced that she's real. Why should you believe me just because a bunch of others do? You shouldn't!

Scott Mageean

1

Scott Mageean replied to Princess Luna's comment

Sorry accidently hit the thumbs down and don't know how to get rid of it.

I can hit the thumbs up but that would require reading all of your comment and I'm not going to do that

Peter McLeod

1

Peter McLeod commented…

Kim , I feel that you did'nt address the issue: Within the context of experiencing Jesus as a reality , have there been misrepresentations about the nature of the relationship with Him?

Krista Cummings

4

Krista Cummings commented…

I love this post, it's so real and true. I think the biggest thing people need to realize about Christianity is that the devil tries even HARDER to make us falter because He knows we have such incredible plans for our lives. He forces even more demons on us, and tries the same tricks over and over again to push us into temptation. The Christian life is a battle. Most nonbelievers think we "chose to be Christians to pretend we have better lives". They think we're being arrogant. When in reality, it's truly the other way around. We've humbled ourselves to the ground, and agreed to take up our cross and live out the life Jesus lived, which was full of temptation and definitely NOT easy! But then again Jesus never said it would be easy. It's important for nonbelievers to know this.

Margaret Nahmias

36

Margaret Nahmias commented…

I watching a sermon about suffering by John Piper While agree tha suffering is part of the Christian whether preach in hostile areas or struggle against his flesh, I believe the motive for our belief and alleganice to Christ should be about reciporating his love and not just reward. If we just look to the heavenly rewards are not be just as greedy as the one who look to earthly ones. And since they are so distant is easy to lose sight of them.

Betty

1

Betty commented…

This article is authored by a prince who is living as a pauper.

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