Drawbacks to the Christian Faith
I believe in truth in advertising and in presenting both the upside and the downside of every decision. Those of you who have read my previous article, “Benefits of the Christian Faith,” might be feeling the tug of the Holy Spirit right now. But before you decide, remember that choosing to become a Christian should not be taken lightly. It is a serious decision with eternal implications, and it includes several challenges. “Count the cost,” Jesus says (Luke 14:28).
Why someone might not want to be saved
Here are some reasons you might not want to become a Christian:
1. You don’t want to live forever in the kingdom of God.
A king rules his kingdom, and in heaven God would rule as your Lord and King. What is it that Satan says in Paradise Lost? “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.” Is that you? Would submitting forever to your creator be just too much for you? Would you feel repressed rather than privileged to live in an environment where only goodness existed? No more dirty jokes or plastered weekends? No more “let’s get crazy” parties? No more thinking of yourself as the greatest thing since tofu?
Response: Don’t confuse Divine Authority with earthly authority. God is the Authority (he created everything, so his book is the most reliable). God really does love his creation, people especially. Think of how much trouble he goes to just to get your worthless hide into his kingdom. He thinks you’re valuable. Sheesh.
2. You don’t like the idea that just anyone can be forgiven and get into the kingdom.
Does the thought of living among a bunch of repentant sinners, many of them of questionable social class, bother you? Are you a racial supremacist who thinks only people with the same color skin that you had on earth should be allowed into heaven? Or are you an upper crust type who is repulsed by the thought that some laborer you once hired from a hardware store parking lot might not only be in heaven with you, but have a larger reward than you?
Response: If you want a superior reward in heaven, serve God with all your strength and remember that earthly status isn’t one of the factors considered for heavenly reward. Buying lunch for the guy you hired in the hardware store parking lot will earn you more points toward a reward than being promoted to chairman of the board. And if you make a face as if you just tasted a rotten lemon when you think that Ted and Zelda will likely be in heaven with you, what do you suppose they are thinking about seeing you there?
3. Whatever the consequences, your pride is the most important thing.
Are you unwilling to take orders from anybody because you want to be the center of attention, making all the decisions? No worship choirs in heaven for you because you want to solo, whatever the tune? At the end of your life do you want to sing, “I did it my way,” and tell everyone that you lived an “authentic” life? Self-actualization is your mantra? You like to take the opposite position in every discussion just to show what an individual, unique thinker you are? You don’t want to have to admit that you’re no longer superior to everyone else?
Can’t stand the thought of not being in control, of no longer arrogantly strutting down the hallway and enjoying the look of fear on the faces of your cowering subordinates?
Response: Think of how many billions of people have passed through life on this planet. Of those, there were certainly at least a million each of people who were smarter, better looking, wittier, more skilled, more talented, more creative, stronger, and faster than you. And many of them were saved, which gives them an advantage over you, by being wiser, too. I hate to break the news to you, but pride is a personality disorder—and that explains why you’re not a very happy person.
4. Your explanation of the world doesn’t include God.
None of this spiritual mumbo jumbo in your Scientific worldview, thank you. So when you observe a process like metamorphosis, where a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, you find it easier to believe that it was produced by chance than by design. You have to believe that the process developed from many, many individual mutations, most of them harmful, and none of them being directed or having a goal, than to believe that the apparent intricate design actually is an intricate design, produced by a Designer?
When you look at the beauty and complexity of the natural world—trees, clouds, rain, sunsets, tropical fish, crystals, butterflies—do you think, “No big deal. Just a bunch of accidents, like me”? Do you wait with nervous anxiety every year for the missing link fossil that “finally proves” your materialist worldview?
Response: I suggest you hunt diligently for a theory of origins that can replace neo-Darwinism, (and still leave God out of the picture, of course) because that theory is a house of cards in a high wind.
5. You want to feel free to lie, cheat, steal, seduce, perhaps kill, without feeling guilty.
Hey, as long as you can get away with it, why not? After all, somebody once said, “Where God does not exist, everything is permissible.” If God existed, would he just get in the way of what you want to do, so goodbye God? Does it flatter you to think that you make your own rules? Make them up as you go along? Have you discovered that morality is just a social construct imposed by the oppressors on the oppressed? Are you fond of telling others, “Who’s to say what’s right or wrong?”
Response: Before the double-edged sword of relativism comes back to bite you (I just love mixed metaphors), remember that relativism is a two-way street (with swords that bite driving up and down). In a society where every Joe, Frank, and Sheila is busy making up their own rules, do you still expect the waiter, the auto mechanic, the cell phone rep not to overcharge you? Do you think the doctor peering at you from behind his surgical mask had any motivation not to cheat his way through medical school? (He knows that if you die during the operation, he will get paid anyway.) Do you expect your friends to be truthful with you? Do you expect your spouse to remain faithful to you? What are you smoking, anyway?
6. You hate God, so you want to continue to pretend he doesn’t exist.
Is it crucial for you to get revenge on God by denying him? Are you really trying to get revenge on authority? Did your earthly father abuse, neglect, abandon, or in some other way hurt you deeply?
God is your Father.
Your father is not God.
Did your mother make you memorize Bible verses in the King James Version, even though you didn’t know what they meant? Did some nice girl say NO to you because she was a Christian? Do you blame God because you are homely, handicapped, suffering from disease, poor, foolish?
Response: If this is you, I think you’ve got it backwards. Instead of trying to get revenge on God for something he didn’t even do, you should take this opportunity and turn to him, for comfort and healing. He’s big enough to handle your pain and help you through it. Why reject the best help—spiritual, emotional, intellectual—that’s available?
7. Something very bad happened to someone you loved.
When your loved one became ill, maybe you prayed to God for help, healing, or deliverance. But his answer was not what you wanted, so you have erased his name out of your book? Did God not snap to it and obey you when you told him what to do? Instead of turning to him with trust, did you turn away and refuse his comfort?
Response: Do you blame God for every bad thing that happens, but never praise or credit him for every good thing that happens? Does your ignorance of Scripture cause you to think that God causes every bad thing that happens rather than allows them with his own sadness?
Turn to the Bible and read with the goal of understanding just how horrible sin is, and how it has marred the entire creation. Maybe then you’ll realize that turning from God makes your pain worse. But, of course, it makes Satan happy. Do you hear him laughing at you right now?
8. It just flatters your ego to feel so sophisticated—and superior—as to deny the existence of God.
Do you enjoy scoffing at Christianity and smirking when people mention Jesus because you love their reaction and it makes you feel so superior? Does it make you feel so much above people when you mock them for “blindly believing their grandparents’ faith instead of living in the real world”?
Do you feel warm and tingly all over when you can mention Science (with a capital S) and pretend that science and Christianity are somehow incompatible?
And do you really get a buzz from the look of shock on the faces of those naïve believers when you announce so forcefully and confidently that God is a myth?
Response: Sorry to be blunt, but this is the attitude of the young and the immature (as in 13-year-olds) who have learned these set phrases (and attitudes) as a response formula that makes them feel less insignificant. I suggest that you probably have low self-esteem and are in need of an emotional prop to make you feel better. Rather than spit shining your ego with tired clichés, you should seek and find the God whose love gives you value.
9. You won’t be able to sell your soul to Satan in exchange for worldly success.
That’s right. Satan doesn’t like Christians (and the feeling is mutual), so if you think you’ll want to work for the devil so you can get lots of stuff in this life, don’t join his enemies (us believers).
I do have a word of wisdom about this, however. There are so many people these days eager to do the devil’s work that he doesn’t need to pay for souls anymore. So you’d be giving your soul up (together with its eternal fate) for free. And even if he does promise you whatever it is you crave so crassly, remember that Satan is liar and a con artist. Don’t be surprised if his check bounces, leaving you with nothing but a hole in your pocket and a dumb look on your face.
10. You don’t want to be persecuted, tortured and killed for your beliefs.
Okay, let’s cut to the bottom line. It’s safer to believe in nothing than in a faith that might get you killed.
Christians past, present, and future have always faced hostility from various sources, secular and religious. Jesus’ death on the cross was just the beginning of countless believers facing torture, burning, beheading, shooting, hanging, and on and on.
In the United States currently, the persecution has been limited largely to discrimination in hiring and promoting, admission to the university, and the like. But already, in many Middle Eastern countries for example, the hostility has long been expressed through personal violence.
So hey, why take a chance on being persecuted? All you’re risking is eternal life.
The Truth Will Out
Once upon a time, in a kingdom somewhat far away, the king’s guardsmen rounded up several preachers of various religious ideas and brought them into the king’s presence. “These men are disturbing the peace of the citizens,” the head guard said. “They are preaching strange doctrines.”
“Let them speak,” said the king. So the guard threw one of the men down before the king.
“Speak,” said the king.
“There are many paths to God,” said the man, “but it does not matter which path you are on because choice is an illusion.”
“Return this idle babbler to the marketplace,” said the king. “Who is next?”
So the guard flung another man down. “Speak your wisdom,” ordered the king.
“The goal of all our reincarnations is to become nothing,” the man said. “We must seek nonexistence.”
“What of this man?” the guard asked.
“He is a harmless fool,” the king said. “Return him to the marketplace.”
Finally, the guard pushed another man down to the king’s feet. “What is your delusion?” the king asked, smirking.
“There is only one God,” the man said, “and only one path to him, and that is through the atoning sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ, who grants eternal life. Unless you serve him, you cannot be saved.”
“And this one?” asked the guard.
“Kill him,” said the king, in a fearful voice.
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
—2 Timothy 3:12
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
Questions for Thought and Discussion
For Those Who Are Not Christians
1. If you are not a Christian, of the reasons for not wanting to become a Christian, are any of those discussed here your reasons? Which reason(s), and why?
3B. If you are already a Christian, did any of the reasons for not wanting to believe hold you back? If so, how did you overcome the objection?
1. In your small group, choose someone to play the narrator, the head guard, the king, the “many paths” preacher, the reincarnation preacher, and the Christian. Act out the vignette, “The Truth Will Out” in this chapter. Discuss its purpose in this chapter.