What life should a Christian live to be Christian?

I could see different Christians live different styles of life, though they all follow one God and try to be caring.

The history of science and technology has shaped my view of life. Preservation and continuing the line should be at the centre of everyone’s life. Love is a type of attitude that could influence people’s behavior, relationship and experience of life.

But when I read something about Mother Teresa, I became confused.

One of Mother Teresa’s quotes is “Pain and suffering have come into your life, but remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus - a sign that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you.”

Do Christians have to deliberately suffer to get close to Jesus? Or, when you suffer misfortunes, should you do nothing but just suffer to be Christian?

Dear Shaun,
I turn to the making of a samurai sword for my analogy for suffering, as apposed to Mother Theresa’s, because I find it more illustrative. The metal for the sword is heated, pounded, folded and heated, pounded, and folded again and again until the blade is perfect - all the impurities have been pounded out.

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matt 5:44–48)

Only the prophets and Jesus were born with a perfect soul, the rest of us are here to become perfect and this means either enlightened learning or learning through suffering. This is not limited to Christians. Anyone who strives for spiritual perfection will be tested. Learning virtue is a visceral act with many withdrawal symptoms.

Jesus walked the narrow path in His life and in His darkest hour He asked the Father to take the cup from Him, but only if it was God’s Will. We know that it was not God’s Will and God asks us to follow in His Son’s footsteps to become perfect to achieve the Kingdom of God.

1 Like

I don’t see Jesus (or his disciples and later apostles) striking out to find suffering. Suffering comes and finds them. Sure - they don’t deny it when it arrives, but both Jesus and Paul took plenty of steps away from persecutions and populist wrath. They “flee” from town to town, hide on occasion, and even invoke such protections as may be on offer. The fact that Jesus eventually says “thy will be done” and Paul eventually “sets his face toward Jerusalem” is not some sort of death or martyrdom wish. It is a Spirit-driven desire to see a task through, even through persecution and death if that cannot finally be avoided. We comfortable Christians in affluent nations are bothered (and rightly so) by a lack of suffering and persecution, and we think that our pleasant religious stew needs a dash more of the suffering seasoning (but not too much! --carefully measured to taste of course) to help us check that last box of things that the New Testament irritatingly seems to insist that we need. But I think that would be a strange sounding quest to the truly afflicted of the world. Suffering is not some fickle friend that we need to woo. It is a determined bounty agent that will hunt us down if we dare to live out Jesus’ kingdom values […and quite frankly, will almost certainly be hunting you down anyway no matter what sort of profligate life you may pursue]. But even assuming our better angels prevail, we still do our level best to avoid it until we are finally forced to turn and face it and declare to it that it can do as it will with us - but we will not be deterred by it from seeing our quest through to the end if necessary.

Shawn suggests above that Jesus and a few others were born with “perfect souls”. But what I see in Hebrews 2 is this:

It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

And if Jesus was not exempt from sufferings, then neither would anybody else be. But suffering itself was not the endgame in view. The end in view would be the perfection on the other side.


I don’t think you should deliberately strive to suffer. Besides, there is plenty of suffering to go around; no sense in pursuing it.


Wise counsel. I’ll let Thomas a Kempis speak for me:

"Go where you will, seek what you will, you will not find a higher way, nor a less exalted but safer way, than the way of the holy cross. Arrange and order everything to suit your will and judgment, and still you will find that some suffering must always be borne, willingly or unwillingly, and thus you will always find the cross. Either you will experience bodily pain or you will undergo tribulation of spirit in your soul. At times you will be forsaken by God, at times troubled by those about you and, what is worse, you will often grow weary of yourself. You cannot escape, you cannot be relieved by any remedy or comfort but must bear with it as long as God wills…

“The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find yourself. Turn where you will—above, below, without, or within—you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere you must have patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal crown. If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you to the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering, but here there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden for yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will find another and perhaps a heavier one. Do you expect to escape what no mortal man can ever avoid? Which of the saints was without a cross or trial on this earth? Not even Jesus Christ, our Lord, Whose every hour on earth knew the pain of His passion. “It behooveth Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, . . . and so enter into his glory.” How is it that you look for another way than this, the royal way of the holy cross?”


Thank all of you for your enlightening replies!

I summarise your views as follows:
Nobody needs to deliberately pursue suffering. But when you try to become perfect, you can’t avoid it. And when it comes, you should not be afraid of it. Even if you do not try to become perfect, you will suffer too. And those who do not try to become perfect would even suffer more. Salvation can be achieved through perfection, and perfection can be achieved by following Jesus’s footsteps.

Am I right?

You started out well enough. But speaking just for myself at least, your summary falls down at the end when you suddenly switch the question from the “What life should a Christian live” to "How is salvation ‘achieved’ " which is a different question to me, warranting a different response. I was under the impression that we were addressing the former question.

But other than that major quibble the only other minor quibble I would make is that I don’t think quantity of suffering will be inversely proportional (at least in this life) to a person’s efforts toward perfection. In fact, to hear Jesus teach it, we should probably expect more suffering the harder we try to follow in his footsteps. [I was only pointing out that suffering tends to find us anyway even if we spend our lives trying to run away from it. …as relayed in @Jay313’s excellent Kempis quotation. ]

Wow! That is WAY too much of an rational analytical response to her words. Gosh… I thought I was pretty rational analytical but that is over the top. But even I am aware that the whole spectrum of human thought and words are not confined the rational and analytical. There are also poets and mystics and Zen, where there is absolutely no attempt to say things in a rational analytical manner. But I suppose I can give you a more rational analytical… i.e. theological translation of her words.

God did not create life as a scientist simply to observe what happens. He created life in order to give of Himself and to be there for us as we face the inevitable suffering (whether trivial or profound). So what Mother Teresa is saying is that Jesus is there to kiss your boo boo and give comfort because that is why we exist in the first place, to be His child. To be sure God would very much like many of us to be the hand which holds His child or the voice that comforts him/her – that we would be that much in tune with heart of God, but even God doesn’t get everything His own way.

One of my most cherished possessions is a poster that my grandmother gave me. I was a very troubled teenager soon to be a very young single mother. It is a picture of a girl crying and the verse from Revelations 21:4- And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (KJV)

I won’t claim to have suffered “greatly” but I’ve been through some stuff. Yes, there have been times that I have felt the presence of God. One time, quite vividly; I thought I was going to die but God assured me that I’d be OK. These times kept God “on my brain” and are why I never completely left the Faith. When I did come back though, I was as far from suffering as one could be.

There is no one way to live a Christian life. God’s path is different for each of His children. Maybe for some, they do need to seek the experience of suffering; IDK. For me, I’ll take one day at a time and deal with each obstacle, with God’s help; as best as I can.


Hello Shawn,

Where in scripture does it say or imply that the prophets had perfect souls? The only perfect soul I can think of in the bible is Jesus. Isn’t that what Romans 3:23 is talking about?


Yes, they are different questions. I was provoked by Mother Teresa’s quote to ask the former question, and then after reading your posts I thought you had explained what suffering was and why sometimes we suffered, instead of what life a Christian should live.

My not so rational belief (learned from my own past) and practice is nobody should suffer, if people suffer (for some reason), then suffer the less the better, if someone is suffering and if we try to help, then do something to relieve, to make everyone’s life as happy and enjoyable as possible, and the only justifiable sufferings are the necessary cost that one has to pay to achieve something good or avoid more serious harm.

Then you can see why Mother Teresa’s quote provoked me to think about what life a Christian should live.

Yes… not so rational… agreed. The fact is that without suffering we would not even exist. There is no evolution without suffering. There is no life without suffering. It just isn’t possible. But to be sure, it is the nature of life not to accept suffering but to fight against it and improve our condition however we can. And as social beings that also means improving the conditions of others as well. And yet if this is somehow taken to the ultimate extreme and all suffering eliminated, there is a strong possibility of de-evolution to such like the eloi in HG Well’s time machine. If we do not have such challenges to combat suffering then we could lose the capacity to do so. Does this mean we should stop striving against it? Absolutely not! That would be like treating a cancer by helping it to grow and kill the patient. What it means instead, is that it makes no sense to wish suffering away or to imagine that we would be better off if there was no such thing. We have to accept that it is part of life and the struggle against suffering of both ourselves and others is part of what make us alive. It also means we should be careful what we trade away for the elimination of suffering. Science fiction novels like “The Giver,” and films like “Equilibrium” have explored possible futures where we give away far too much.

1 Like

Dear Richard,
Please read Ezekiel 2 for a good example. Ezekiel was the incarnation of the archangel Michael (non-biblical sources) and you see his divinity. Fist off, God calls him the Son of Man, as Jesus calls Himself. In Ezekiel 1 he is able to see into Heaven and view the throne of God, as described in Revelations 4.

The second example is Elias who returned as John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus.

But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. (Matt 17:12)

Elias, being a pure being, was able to recognize Jesus for who He was, saying:

This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. (John 1:30)



What life should a Christian live to be a Christian?

His own life.

Jesus said that the truth sets us free. And thus Christianity is not about living according to some set of dictated rules and seeing how you can twist them to do what you want anyway like the Pharisees. Christianity is about recognizing that the rules flow from an understanding of what is important – to do what is right for its own sake rather than because you are trying to curry favor with a deity. That is what it means to live by a “righteousness based on faith” rather than a “righteousness based on law” (Rom 10).

are you responding to a comment? If so, which one?

Nah! Just pushed the wrong button.

Hi Shawn,

Ezekiel being referred to as, “Son of Man” doesn’t imply that had a perfect soul. And John in Revelation is also able to see into the, “throne in heaven” (4:2, those words). Does he have a perfect soul? Nowhere in John, his letters or in Revelation is that stated or implied.

Nowhere does scripture state that John the Baptist (I don’t believe that he literally was Elijah) was a, “pure being” because he recognized Jesus as the Messiah. He and Ezekiel were prophets and nowhere does the bible say that prophets were sinless. Also, I don’t recognize your non-biblical source, that’s why I asked where, “in the bible” does it state that the prophets had perfect souls.


I agree. A Christian is a truth seeker.
And, there’s a way, whatever you may call, better than any other way. And based on faith, we may find that way and live that way.

1 Like

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.