In today’s culture, Christian living is often viewed as unappealing, unfashionable, and out of date. Yet, Christian living is none of these things. To twist a Fulton Sheen quote “There aren’t more than 100 people in this world who hate Christian living for what it is, but millions who hate it for what it isn’t.” Even so, those millions can get to us sometimes. It isn’t always easy to take up our crosses and follow Christ with joy.
Now and again we all need a reminder that Christian living is beautiful. If you’re having one of those days where you need a reminder, this is the article for you.
The main reason Christian living is so great is because it is striving towards the good, true, and beautiful. The culture is striving for temporary pleasures. When we reach the end of our lives, we aren’t going to say to ourselves “oh I wish I’d drank more alcohol, or that I spent more time scrolling through social media.” We aren’t even going to say “I wish I’d done more things just for myself.” Think about it. What would you want people people to say at your funeral?
It’s probably something along the lines about how you were “a really great person, kind, generous, loving…” and about how you were “the best friend, parent, and grandparent.”
The Christian way of living naturally leads to the most fulfillment. Secular culture might promote the idea that we Christians are boring and joyless, but the claims are groundless. Joy and adventure is the reality of a Christian life.
Where’s the Proof?
While I was in university, degree requirements meant that I had to take a two seminar class with an atheist professor. Now, this professor was the sort of atheist who made sure everyone knew he was an atheist. And why he was an atheist. When I completed the first class with him my feeling was “I’m doing that ever again.” I was wrong about that.
To make things worse, this second seminar class with him was devoted to science fiction. Sci-fi is probably the genre I disliked the most. I think I’d rather read heretical works. Maybe. At least I’d be prepared to do a constructive critique of the later.
One of the works we read included a world where people underwent genetic testing when they came of age and had their genetic dispositions and probable future read out to them. It could be something like “watch what you eat in your twenties because you’re predisposed to diabetics. Get good health coverage because you’re going to get a rare form of bone cancer when you turn 44.” Anyhow, one of our class discussion questions was “if you could hear your future health information, would you, and why?”
The Standard Secular Answers
Most people’s answers were variations of two lines of thought. One was, yes I’d want to know because if I’m going to get dementia I’d want to set my affairs in order and jump off a bridge before it happens. The other was no I don’t want to know either because I’d be too scared, worry too much, or it’s too much pressure to have your whole life known before it happens.
As we were going around the table I was struck by how sad I felt hearing my classmates answers. Fear and despair is not a pleasant way to look at life. But that’s what secular culture has taught them. Life is stressful, hopeless, and any sickness or illness is to be faced with despair and resignation. If things don’t go our way, there’s no nobility in suffering. It’s just over.
When it came to my turn to answer I explained that I wouldn’t have my DNA read. I don’t need to know if I am predisposed to certain health problems. Instead, I need to take responsibility for decisions over my health regardless of what my genetics say. I should eat healthy and exercise because I know that’s the best way to take care of my body. If there are illnesses that I develop as I age, then I’ll meet them as they come.
The Atheist’s Regret
After two more students answers, it was the professor’s turn to answer. I’d heard him spout rhetorical nonsense, apologetics for atheism, and regular religion is foolish speeches. He knew I was Christian (and a traditional Catholic at that). Yet when it came time for him to answer, you know what he said? “I wish I had [Kyleshka’s] answer.”
That’s right. In that moment, the atheist saw the appeal of Christian living. Taking personal responsibility, willing to meet any challenges as they come… that’s a good, true, and beautiful way to look at life. Fearing suffering, blaming genetic dispositions for our problems, that isn’t a noble way of looking at life.
(The professor continued on to say that he would want to know what his genetic future was so that he could choose to die before things got bad. I was even more sad to hear him answer this because I know that he has a young daughter).
The Good, the True, and the Beautiful
When I am in the library, besides browsing nonfiction, I enjoy picking up children’s stories. I am sure there are some good fiction reads for adults, but there is something about the noble characters and heroes of kid’s books. The narratives draw me in. Perseverance through difficulty and the triumph of good over evil are staples of the literature
The Christian way of living is appealing for the same reason. As Christians, we are not powerless mammals bound by instincts and circumstances. We are the heroes in our own lives, working together with Christ to do the will of God in the world. Through Christ we can overcome any challenge. Good has already triumphed over evil with Christ’s death and resurrection. In striving to live in a way which is aiming towards the good, true, and beauty, our lives become a shining beacon of light for the world.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Unless you want to talk about how beautiful the Eastern Christian way of living is, specifically. Read my article on Why You Need an Icon Corner in your home.