The Perfect Christian Life, Or A Temptation Even Greater Than Chocolate

When the filmmakers for Soul Surfer began working on adapting the book to the screen they approached Bethany Hamilton, the girl who lost her arm to a shark bite, to see if there were any conflicts that were left out of the book. They were finding that though it was a great story, it was not translating well to a screenplay because of the absence of conflict. The book was marketed to the Christian realm, and as such, it didn’t make mention of their struggles (apart from the obvious, a missing arm). And, as it turns out, there was some.

I think this is a very common tendency for Christians – to hide our struggles and our conflicts. To make everything seem okay. Not only have I done this, I do this, as in I still do. For some reason we, unconsciously I suspect, try to portray the Christian life as simply a blessed one, where everything goes along swimmingly and with as little trouble as possible save a flat tire.

Please know I’m not criticizing Bethany Hamilton’s family for making their lives look conflict free. To me, it’s a strong temptation among believers to portray our lives as great, as though nothing is wrong.

Your probably tired of me asking questions, it seems like all I do. Nonetheless I’m curious why this seems a near-universal temptation for Christians. Is it because we think it makes God look bad if we have conflict and things going wrong? Is it because we are afraid that if we will look weak if we admit that not everything is going well? Could it be we’re afraid we’ll look like we’re failing Christians because not everything is perfect?

Obviously, the problem-free life is a lie. If anything, I believe following Jesus ensures that you can expect trials and even pain. As those in the recovery movement know, healing from pain doesn’t mean the pain is over. And servitude will never be easy. It will always be a fight. So we can drop the whole “yeah, everything is great!” line. If anything, it’ll give Christians more credibility – because those whom we answer won’t hear the hesitation in our voice, but the strain and the heartache and even the joy in a real life – one lived in the wide variety of emotions that aren’t always fine.

Do you fall into the trap? Why is it so tempting to make everything okay? What damage does it do?

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9 Responses to The Perfect Christian Life, Or A Temptation Even Greater Than Chocolate

  1. David says:

    I think there is a real issues with Christianity and stress free living. Here are a couple of reasons.

    – The Bible says that as we think, we are. If we are negative about ourselves, then we can limit ourselves. IE: I am not smart enough, not talented enough etc.
    – Jesus said don’t worry about tomorrow. So, I don’t. The doctor say 33% of the people that have my heart condition live 5 years. Or they need a transplant. I said, I am here now, and the sun is shinning. I get out there and exercise. Next.
    – Elijah asked God t revel that army that was on their side to Elisha – the spiritual real is the realm of the Christian, not the natural.
    – The tongue is a fire – it can bless us or curse us. If I say I will never be well, or never find a job etc. What do you think i w will have?
    – Jesus was asleep in the boat! Got problems, go to sleep!
    – Jesus said my peace leave with you, I think I’ll take it!

    So, conflict? Yes, everyday. Peace, whenever I need it. I am like the swan gracefully cruising the lake – but my feet are paddling hard. That is the picture of my faith.

    Oh yeah, and my God does stuff and speaks to me, so I often know the next move. 🙂

  2. Good thoughts Charlie and i would personally be upset if you stopped asking questions. You wouldn’t be you if you did. 🙂 To answer your question; when i was growing up I often heard people say, “come to Jesus and all your problems will be solved.” Say what? I missed that boat because mine became more pronounced! And, I think, THAT IS AS IT SHOULD BE! Jesus said we would have difficulty. Too many Christians have their heads in the sand or “try to live above the problem” and refuse to admit they have them. When my dad left my mom, she was listening to a certain word-of-faith teacher who talked about planting seeds. “Your dad is coming back.” “No, he isn’t mom.” “Yes he is. I have planted a seed of faith.” Mom went to see Jesus in 2004 and after 28 years he still had not come back. Accept reality. Live with Jesus in His presence. As David said, “conflct? Yes. Peace, whenever needed.” Quit pretending and tell the truth about how you feel.

    • love that – yours just became more pronounced! Not sure if we lie about everything being well hoping the power of positive thinking will come in to save the day, or if we’re just afraid Jesus didn’t fix everything like we thought he would.

  3. I don’t think it’s wrong, in a casual setting, to answer the “How ya doin?” question with “Doing good!” even though life may be pretty raunchy.

    But.

    We desperately need to help each other share our struggles without furthering the mire.

    Good post!

    • definitely agree – it’s almost as though we’re afraid to be honest and share struggles, as we fear it’ll make us look weak. Certainly in some situations it’s totally appropriate to not dump all your crap out on the table – but it’s commonplace in some Christian circles.

  4. Darius says:

    I think it’s largely because we don’t fully grasp the Gospel like we should. We subconsciously think that somehow our salvation and sanctification still relies on us, that if we’re not doing well, our salvation is endangered. If, on the other hand, we’re merely pots of clay meant for God’s glory (whether through our purity or our sin), and everything is dependent on Him and His gift of grace, then our faltering steps and conflict are merely tools of God’s loving discipline in our lives. David’s sin with Bathsheba was meant for God’s glory; by showing God’s hatred of evil; by showing that even great men of God are still little more than weak vessels prone to depravity; by showing that God’s discipline is meant for our repentance and growth.

    The other reason is pride… we want to look good for other people and sin doesn’t make us look good, or so we think.

  5. HolyRollerNovocaine says:

    YES Darius!!!! I TOTALLY agree with your response! But I think not only do we want to look good to other people, we want to look good to ourselves. I think we try to fool ourselves into thinking that everything is fine and that this is easy.

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