taking the words of Jesus seriously

Christianity is a unique, wonderful, amazing experience that is filled with all sorts of positive things, but it can also be severely frustrating. Here are 6 things I hate about being a Christian:

The Infighting:

Christians often emphasize being “right” over being holy.

Practicing your faith can seem like walking on eggshells, and if you happen to say the wrong thing, believe the wrong idea, or appear the wrong way—Christians will freak out. Within Westernized societies, the fiercest persecution of believers doesn’t come from unbelievers—but from Christians themselves.

Do you affiliate with the right denominations, adhere to the right theology, attend the right churches, uphold the right traditions, follow the right doctrines, read the right authors, like the right scholars, listen to the right podcasts, and visit the right blogs?

If you don’t, you might be called a heretic, blasphemer, fool, or worse. They might disassociate themselves with you, personally attack you, gossip about you, slander you, ignore you, avoid you, and make your life miserable.

For Christians, the topic of spirituality is a lot like politics—it’s a very touchy subject. Everyone has their own opinions, and various factions are passionate about self-righteously upholding their opinions while simultaneously attacking the beliefs of others.

This toxic behavior leads to denominational rifts, church splits, interpersonal conflict, and lots of messy battles. Unfortunately, Christianity is full of infighting, and it doesn’t appear to be ending soon.

The Stereotypes and Assumptions:

There are countless labels, stereotypes, and assumptions associated with being a Christian. But identifying as a Christian doesn’t automatically mean you’re anti-gay, anti-science, anti-evolution, anti-environment, anti-democrat, anti-abortion, pro-gun, pro-conservative, or pro-war.

Many believers of Christ refuse to define themselves as ‘Christian’ because they don’t want to be associated with labels. The term means a million different things to a million different people.

Related: 10 Cliches Christians Should Never Use

But for many, Christians will always symbolize a particular mold and brand that cannot be easily adjusted. No matter how much variance or complexity exists, there will always be stereotypes—we must learn to live with (and overcome) such preconceptions.

The Hypocrisy:

Unfortunately, even though stereotypes aren’t totally true, Christians are associated with many bad things. It’s embarrassing, shameful, and downright heartbreaking.

Financial scams, sexual abuse, corruption, political scandals, violence, greed, and deceit continually make Christians look bad—and the painful truth is that we often are bad.

People use the name of Christ for their own selfish agendas—to get money, fame, and power. Whenever a televangelist uses fear to manipulate people into giving away their savings, street preachers hatefully spew rhetoric at innocent bystanders, pastors promise apocalyptic judgment on their enemies, and churches boycott funerals to promote a certain political agenda–I cringe.

To many, this is what typifies Christianity: a long legacy of betrayal, hypocrisy, and sinful behavior. The burden of these associations is difficult and can cause extreme sadness, shame, and guilt, but it also shows us how NOT to act.

We need to constantly remind ourselves that in the end, Christianity is all about Jesus—not the people, churches, institutions, organizations, and litany of things that continually misrepresent Him.

The Unrealistic Expectations:

Christianity can sometimes feel like a perpetual to-do list, with a millions things that must be done—but are never fulfilled.

There’s being a Christian…and then there’s being a SUPER-Christian: someone who continually volunteers at food shelves, shelters the homeless, gives away their wealth, and travels the world constantly doing good.

We’re continually inundated with sermons, teachings, and inspirational stories encouraging us to emulate Christ—serving the world around us by being selfless, sacrificial, humble, peaceful, kind, gracious, forgiving, and supernaturally loving.

The reality is, no matter how much we give, help, encourage, donate, and serve—it never seems to be enough. There’s always something more we could do.

We compare ourselves to the lives of Mother Teresa, Pope Francis, and ultimately Jesus, and when we inevitably fall short—we feel like failures.

Many react to by continually clogging their lives with mission trips, conferences, retreats, and ministry opportunities. Frantically devouring everything Christendom has to offer. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s easy to become motivated by shame, guilt, and legalism instead of realizing the redemptive grace of God.

As believers, we must accept that God will use us despite our deficiencies. The point isn’t to try harder and harder until we eventually crash and burn.

The reality is that our spiritual life is a journey—a Pilgrim’s Progress. There will be good times and bad, but in the end it’s about improving ourselves and the lives of those around us by developing a relationship with God.

The Overwhelming Emotions and Experiences:

Christianity is filled with all sorts of emotional highs and lows. One moment you’ll be celebrating the promises of eternal life in heaven, and the next you’ll be lamenting the eternal torment of hell. You’ll pray and thank God for healing your daughter of her cold, and then request healing for a relative fighting cancer. You’ll cheerfully celebrate a baby dedication one week, while somberly attend a funeral the next. You’ll hear a sermon about love, peace, grace, and redemption, and then quickly hear a follow-up message about sin, judgment, guilt, and the looming Armageddon.

Also by Stephen: The 6 Worst Things About American Christianity 

Within Christianity there’s plenty of hyperbole, and things are seemingly either really good or really, really, REALLY bad. Nothing is “lukewarm.” Therefore, participating in a spiritual community can be exhausting. It’s a series of celebrations and lamentations, amazing achievements and devastating disappointments, laughter and weeping, wins and losses, joy and sadness–it’s a whirlwind of drastic emotions and experiences.

The Endless Commitment:

Christianity is meant to be deep, meaningful, inspiring, and truthful. But for this to happen it requires brutal honesty and vulnerability, and insists on emotional, intellectual, and physical investment—an overwhelming commitment.

Constantly attending church functions, maintaining relationships, participating in ministry, fellowship, worship, and prayer can be extremely tiring. Sometimes it’s tempting to just take break, or simply quit altogether.

There’s a reason burnout is so common among Christians—it requires so much. But in the end, even though the cost is high, a relationship with Jesus is worth the expense.

Overall, it’s important for Christians to realize that recognizing and admitting these feelings about Christianity is normal and healthy. If you’re struggling in your faith, you aren’t alone.

Our hope rests in the promise that God will work all things together for good—no matter how bad we think things are.

About The Author


Stephen Mattson is the author of "The Great Reckoning: Surviving a Christianity That Looks Nothing Like Christ." Follow him on Twitter (@StephenMattson_)

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