Avoid romanticizing or downplaying Christian life

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - February 27, 2021 - 12:00am

Christian life is both difficult and easy. Difficult because it truly demands more than what we can give or cope. The goal it wants us to aim at is nothing less than something supernatural, not merely natural. That goal can only be fully achieved in heaven, not here on earth, though aspects of it can be enjoyed already here.

But it is also easy because God’s grace is always there. All the means we need to live it in all the circumstances of our life have been given. There is abundant divine mercy and compassion when we find ourselves in difficulties. God never leaves us even if we dare to leave him.

Let’s be clear about this point. Hell is when we completely shut God off from us, even if God continues to keep us in existence. Hell is when we hate God definitively even if God continues to love us. God can never hate anyone no matter how bad one is.

So we should never romanticize our Christian life as if we can attain a perfect state of life here where there will be no more problems, no more difficulties, no more tears and death.

We will always be hounded by our natural limitations, our weaknesses, our mistakes and failures, the many temptations around and sin itself. And with this condition, we should just try our best to deal with them. Thus, we can neither downplay our responsibility to live the Christian life.

What Christ showed us are ideals that we should try our best to pursue and live by. But let’s never think that we can live those Christian ideals perfectly. We can always try and try, and that is what actually is being expected of us—that we just try and try.

The perfection of our Christian life is first of all a supernatural thing. It can never be achieved mainly on our own effort and powers. Let’s remember what St. Paul said in this regard: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” (Phil 1,6)

Thus, when we try our best to live the Christian life and propose it also to others, we should be realistic in the sense that while we should try to show the true demands of Christian life, we should never forget the reality of our limitations.

We should never present the Christian life as if it can be perfect with heavenly bliss while still in this world. We can only make suggestions, encouragements, corrections, etc. It will always be a work in progress. To present it as something that can be totally finished here on earth is to make an illusion. Christ will perfect it for and with us.

But we should not underestimate the importance of the all-out effort we have to give to live a Christian life. We have to continually struggle. We have to see to it that what God has given us all we need to be fruitful, never saying enough to that effort.

We can never think that just because Christian life in the end can only be achieved supernaturally, and that God is always merciful, we can take it easy. We have to continually fight and struggle.

There is indeed a great need to have the proper understanding of Christian life, freed of the extremes of romanticism and minimalism.

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