It probably sounds odd for me to say this on a blog all about the Catholic faith, but I'm always a little fatalistic when telling people about Jesus. I love talking about Him, which is why I'm up to over 50 posts on this thing, but I don't have any illusions about how difficult it is for the world at large to take what I'm saying. And I don't feel all that inclined to sugar-coat how difficult and counter-cultural it can be to live the Christian life. I grew up in probably the most liberal part of California as a Fundamentalist, so that probably has something to do with it.
But in trying to not sugar-coat things, I might give the wrong impression. A person might wonder, why be a Christian at all if it's so difficult? And I realized (forgive the patronizing analogy) that telling people about Jesus is kind of like asking my kids to eat their vegetables. I'd like a plate of ice cream every night as much as they do, but especially at 35 now, my body will not deal with that very well. Sure, if I'd like to take a couple years off my life and ingrain horrible eating habits in my children, we'd all go for it. But my being, my heart, my mind – every physical part of me thanks me later with more energy and a healthier life when I decide to eat healthy.
And that's the way it is with a life of faith. Of course it was as difficult for me as anybody to stay chaste through my 20's and wait to have sex with my wife. It's rough raising three kids and realizing I could be much wealthier and free to do what I want without them. It's not fun believing things that make others feel justified to call me a bigot and backwards. But if I'm honest with myself, living the Christian life has been healthy. It has opened my heart in ways I didn't know I needed. It has given me a depth of joy and richness of life that I simply could not have otherwise.
And I think, if I have the time and patience for it, I want to explore in the next few posts exactly how the Christian life has been just that for me: healthy – and healthy in exactly those places the world says it shouldn't be.
G.K. Chesterton, one of my favorite authors, said this:
Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.
Jesus spoke in some places about how following Him required radical commitment and struggle and in others about how the burden of following Him was easy and light. It's a paradox, but one I think many Christians, including myself, have found to be very true, and I look forward to explaining how.