ON THE JOURNEY
I really try quite hard not to become a blogger. I have never wanted to be a blogger nor will I ever want to be a blogger. Surely if I were to give my definition of a blogger I would offend some folks, so let’s just leave it right there.
The only reason I bring the topic up is because this article is going to have more of my opinion than most and reading someone else’s opinion can be a bit slippery.
I read a rather lengthy article today on the decline of Christianity in America and it wasn’t very encouraging on many fronts. But it is not something that should be treated by burying our heads in the sand.
As believers we should at least be interested in knowing why this is happening, and what the consequences are for America.
I am not a researcher, so the only person I interviewed on this subject was myself. Based on my conclusion you will have to judge whether or not I was a reliable source.
Let’s begin with the why question. Why is Christianity declining in America? This could really take pages to answer so I will see if I can narrow it down to some of the main reasons that might seem obvious to the casual observer.
One – the dilution of the Gospel. What do I mean by that? Well, today we have the Joel Osteen Gospel and the Ed Young Gospel and the Willow Creek Gospel and the Max Lucado Gospel and the Charismatic Gospel and the Pentecostal Gospel, not to mention “I need a new airplane gospel.”
If you were to drop in here from Mars and visit just five or six of these churches do you think there is any chance you might go home shaking your head?
I am not accusing any of these churches of anything specifically wrong. I am wondering just how would an unbeliever have any idea which group has the “truth?”
Before you get a headache trying to figure that out let me pose another problem that crept in the side door between the choir rehearsal room and the nursery. Nobody recognized it because it was so welcomed. It just seemed OK. It was the culture.
Any church that is seeing rapid growth in today’s market has a hot band and some good voices leading “worship.” I have already angered some of you so I will just keep plowing on.
A lot of what we see and hear in church today is entertainment more than worship. That is what draws the crowds.
I could take us back to our seminaries for additional consideration, but we won’t take time for that. Instead we will talk about the result. What is different about preaching today than it was 40 to 50 years ago?
Language has changed and style has changed. Sin is now a mistake or a poor choice. Rather than a message on the attributes of God you are more likely to hear a message on the attributes of man and how if he just disciplined himself to do a certain 10 things he would experience a more fulfilling Christian life.
The Christian life can be narrowed down to a set of specific performances that if properly carried out will lead one to the “abundant Christian Life.”
My friends that is not only common preaching, it is false preaching and an ordinary lie. If by chance you have been operating under that delusion you know well what I am saying is true.
Let’s give the church a rest and take on the government for awhile. Where to begin? Let’s take a look at religious freedom.
We, meaning Christianity as a whole, are under attack every day in this country, from the public schools to the universities to the U.S. Military. Oh, and let’s not leave out our politicians, many of whom might as well be honest about something and admit that they are atheists.
The Constitution has been distorted, abused and ignored. Laws are for the little people. Just this week the leadership of the House declared we didn’t need God to swear people in for testimony.
There is a bit of irony in the fact that military chaplains are told they can’t preach about Jesus, but you can’t stop those Soldiers and Marines from gathering in a circle with arms around one another to pray. They understand.
There is one other issue that I failed to mention when talking about “the church.” Whether we like it or not, or agree with it or not, Christians as a whole are seen by the unbelieving world as judgmental – not loving. That my friends is a very real problem that contributes to people looking elsewhere for the answers to life.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” I like my translation a little better. “Relax, remember, I am God.”
There is a great tendency to look around ourselves and despair with much reason but we must not forget who we belong to, who is in charge of the universe, and I beg your pardon, but it is not an angry little 17-year-old from Europe who thinks she is in charge of the world.
Prayer is still a very viable option my friends and God stills listens to his children. Jesus said in Hebrews, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”