Is it possible to lead a Christian life without a Church?

More great content, memes, commenting and community not available on this site.

We are also on Facebook and Instagram which have been designated terrorist organizations by the Russian government.

Alexander Tkachenko

I often hear that from non-church people: "Why do I need a Church if I can just live according to the commandments of Christ, read the Bible and pray to God - alone at home without all that fuss?". Nowadays you can buy Christian literature everywhere, the Internet is full of Christian content, so it seems that anyone can learn the rules of Christian life for themselves, even without being a member of the Church. Memorize a few Commandments, buy some prayer books, and - hey presto! - you can live a spiritual life privately at home, without the trouble of going to church. But why doesn't everyone do it then?

The answer is unexpectedly simple: Christian life doesn't just work like that. You can surround yourself with books, and icons, and web pages - but sooner or later the Bible will end up gathering dust on a bookshelf, icons will turn into useless interior decorations, and the commandments, if not forgotten at all, will go somewhere deep in memory, only occasionally to give weak signals from there. Of course, occasionally one will follow them, but they will not become the rule of life.

You can verify that easily by doing a little experiment. Try to spend even a week of your life according to the Gospel, carefully observing your feelings, thoughts, words and actions.  And then the inconsistency of such an "individual Christianity" will become obvious without further theoretical explanations. It is simply not possible to maintain a lifestyle if you are alone. To lead a Christian life, you need a Christian community. And that community is the Church.

This phenomenon is well known to psychology. Many people have experienced this failure to "start a new life on a Monday", or to fulfill any kind of special resolutions.

In some strange way, the willpower just wears off after a while, no matter how hard you were trying at first.  For some reason, sooner or later the mind begins to yield to the weakened will, and people, who started off determined to change their life, end up falling back to old habits. Don't get me wrong, sometimes people succeed in changing their lifestyle in some way - it is entirely possible to quit smoking, or lose weight, or maintain a schedule, even without guidance, if you put your mind to it. Willpower can work alone. Just not with Christianity.

In the case of the Gospel commandments, even a strong will does not solve the problem. Although it may help you to read the Bible and the read the prayers regularly. Using onlly the willpower one can stop oneself from stealing or bearing false witness. But with judging or envy it is considerably harder, almost impossible. And even the most strong-willed person in the world will not be able to force himself to love his neighbors. Moreover - to love his enemies.

Here the will is powerless. But love is really the essence of all the Commandments. Even the prohibitive ones — like "do not judge" or "do not covet" — they also, in fact, speak only about the norm of attitude towards loved ones, which all people should become for you, regardless of their attitude towards you.  And if you don't love, then your willful efforts to fulfill all the other commandments are worthless.

If Christ had given the commandments to people simply as a formal knowledge of goodness, it would have been incredibly cruel. The commandments would then had become like an insurmountable wall for the fallen man. But the Lord also promised His help to anyone who decides to live according to His Commandments: "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). 

In fulfillment of this promise, He founded His Church on earth, in which He has been living and operating for two thousand years.




More great content, memes, commenting and community not available on this site.

We are also on Facebook and Instagram which have been designated terrorist organizations by the Russian government.