pain reliever

Unsafe Christianity

What do we hope to get out of religion?  Why are we often so disappointed by religion? One main reason lies in our expectations of religion and the fact that they do not meet each other very well.

So many of us do an excellent job at confirming Nietzsche and his view of religion as an opiate for the people.  We have turned religion and especially Christianity into an opiate, a strong pain reliever, an ultimate high to calm us beyond anything we have ever known.  We have come to a point where we hate religion because it does not give us calm clear life. We get frustrated when Christianity does not offer us the clear cut answers and life we thought Christianity would be.  We soon come to realize that Christianity is NOT always clear and easy.  We come to realize that Christianity shakes us to the core.  WE realize that Christianity is not as SAFE as we had hoped and thought.

Christianity was and is never intended to be safe, and we cannot depend on it to be so.  In fact, Christianity is not safe and will always be uncomfortable, and if it is comfortable we are not experiencing true Christianity as it is intended to be.  We need to be shaken continually.  That is what Christianity does; it shakes us up.  It moves us to responsive action.

This is the reason so many Christians today are frustrated and close-minded.  They are closed to challenge and questioning because they want their faith, their religion, their Christianity to be clear, stable, and safe.

What Tylenol has to do with compassion

Dr. Paul Brand wrote a book called The Gift of Pain.  He has had exposure to great pain and has learned a great deal about it.  He has seen several different cultures and their response to pain and how that affects those within the culture.  I found his perception of American culture and its response to pain very interesting. “...a society that seeks to avoid pain at all costs.  Patients lived at a greater comfort level than any I had previously treated, BUT THEY SEEMED FAR LESS EQUIPPED TO HANDLE SUFFERING AND FAR MORE TRAUMATIZED BY IT.” (EMPHASIS mine)

We are one of the only cultures in the world, which avoids pain at all cost.  The pain relief industry in America is a more than $63 billion A YEAR industry.  What has been the result of that avoidance?

Because of our exceptional avoidance of pain, we have continually made ourselves more and more unable to handle suffering.

What I have challenged myself with as a Christian is to try and understand what compassionate love is going to look like with this information.

The Latin break down of “compassion” is “com” + “patti”, which ends up meaning “to suffer with”.

As a Christian, I have been called to compassion toward those around me.  I have been called to SUFFER WITH those around me.

Now as an American Christian, this is going to be a greater challenge.  For me to be compassionate I will need to suffer with others; but in order to suffer with others, I will need to give up trying so hard to avoid pain.

It is no wonder being compassionate is so difficult!


“I learned that pain sends a signal not only to the patient but to the surrounding community as well.  Just as individual pain sensors announce to other cells in the body, ‘Attend to me! I need help!” so do suffering human beings cry out to the community at large.” – Dr. Paul Brand