“I really do not know how non-Christians get through life without faith.” Ever heard that said? Ever said it? I have. And I’ve heard it said many times. Perhaps the truth is non-Christians probably do fine in the main, because they live their lives in their own strength. They know no different.
There would be exceptions to what I’m about to say, but they would be few. Besides, would new converts readily hear how tough the Christian life is? Would they back out before they started?
I’m sure many embark on the journey with Christ thinking it will be easier. It’s not. But, thankfully, that’s not the end of the story.
It is harder to live life relying on God’s strength, because we must surrender our pride, greed, anger, envy, etc., which is something that’s only possible through the Holy Spirit’s power, together with our aligning volition. This is a miracle: that a Christian would surrender their sinful nature, one event at a time, and prefer to do God’s will.
New converts probably aren’t briefed on the realities of spiritual warfare they’ll encounter. Again, there are exceptions, but in the main how many recent converts would even know what to watch out for? Spiritual attack is something that must be experienced to be believed. Are new disciples trained in how to deal with spiritual warfare, or even how to become aware of it?
It’s hard living the Christian life. Many people backslide out of their faith (read the Parable of the Sower) because the faith life is difficult. It’s not the life that the comfortable live. It’s a life lived out of a conviction that God is real and alive in the Person of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit present within. In this way, the Christian life chooses us, not the other way around. “We love because He first loved us,” as 1 John 4:19 puts it.
Notwithstanding all I’ve said above about how hard it is to live the Christian life, I wouldn’t live without Christ for anything. I would prefer to live the full reality of life — tougher than the non-Christian life as it is — because I believe the full reality is inherently part of the abundant life Jesus came to give us access to. And in living the abundant life, only then are we granted secret understanding of and access to the power which has already overcome the world (see John 16:33). Christian life is tougher than non-Christian life, yet only through Christ is there victorious life.
There are many massive discouragements and gargantuan tests in Christian life; events and situations that will push us regularly into the abyss of despair. Those who are armed with the Spirit have a very real enemy to contend with. But those who are armed with the Spirit also have the risen Lord’s power, which is power to obey as the tests come.
There is a cost to discipleship, and only the true disciple bears that cost. It takes them deeper into the love of God, for there is only one way to love God: to trust by obeying.
Being Christian is surrendering the sinful will, one event at a time, to do God’s will. That’s never easy.
Just to say it again so the point is made: the Christian life is the hardest life, but it is the only life with a genuine living hope.