Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Challenge of Being a Christian

The following comes from Word on Fire:

One of the greatest obstacles to becoming a committed Christian is that Christianity is challenging. The task of living a fully God-centered life is no walk in the park, as the lives of the greatest and most fully-converted Christians who have ever lived—the saints—will attest. Indeed, Christianity lived to the fullest involves struggle. But is the struggle worth it?
Often the skeptic will see the struggle and be deterred. What he may not see—perhaps a result of self-inflicted spiritual blindness—is the outflow of joy that permeates every saint's struggle; and if he does see it he will not want it—not because he does not want joy but rather because he does not want joy enough to give up his old ways. But of course, even the most hardened skeptic cannot be considered a total write-off. Indeed some skeptics are eventually compelled to change their mind. This is the hopeful realization that drives evangelization.
The rejection of God today, however, is often not caused primarily by philosophical argument. Usually it is a result of indifferentism towards religion—a result of what Bishop Robert Barron has called the "Meh" culture. The question is: Is this popular religious indifference warranted? Are Christians who toil for the cause of Christ wasting their precious time?
Imagine a friend offered you a free lottery ticket. Would you take it? You've got nothing to lose—it's free! Too busy? Oh, but if you win—you win millions. You've got nothing to lose and millions to gain, so why not take the ticket? Of course you'd take it.
The great mathematician Blaise Pascal, in his Pensees, saw a similar scenario regarding faith in Jesus Christ. He concluded that the struggle to believe was worth it. He saw that if you believe in Christ—or at least die trying—you will gain everything as God promised. But if you choose to say no without trying—if you choose to say "meh"—you lose will everything. Dr. Peter Kreeft unpacks Pascal's Wager in his essay "Argument from Pascal's Wager":
“If God does not exist, it does not matter how you wager, for there is nothing to win after death and nothing to lose after death. But if God does exist, your only chance of winning eternal happiness is to believe, and your only chance of losing it is to refuse to believe. As Pascal says, ‘I should be much more afraid of being mistaken and then finding out that Christianity is true than of being mistaken in believing it to be true.’"

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