Words from Pastor Jim:
Christian Faith—The Difficult Choice
For most of us living today it has been very easy to call yourself a Christian—unless you were among
the relatively few Americans active in another faith tradition like Judaism, Buddhism, or Islam. But lately,
it seems that it has become much easier for anyone to just not be a Christian.
One of the trends of the last decade or so has been the rapid growth of ‘nones’—people who check
‘none’ when asked about their religious affiliation.
If you think about it, there is a healthy honesty in this trend. Fewer people are claiming to be Christian
and are now more honestly declaring their ‘none-ness’.
Some recent studies have found that while the number of people claiming to be Christian may be in
steep decline, the percentage of the population that is actually participating in regular church
attendance and Christian faith activities is actually holding fairly constant at around 20%.
A very hopeful observation about this 20% is that there appears to be a slight uptick in active Christian
faith participation by those Millenials everyone wants to focus on as we try figure out where our culture
and society is heading.
You probably thought that 20% number would be higher. The higher number that most of us think
about is those claiming to be Christian—including those who are not very active, if at all, in church
attendance or other Christian faith activities. That percentage is about 70% today, down from a peak in
some studies exceeding 90% in decades past.
These statistics tell us something most of us already know. Many of us are living with this issue in our
own Christian homes every week. When one adult member of a household doesn’t actively go to church
or participate—that’s a 50% reduction in active participation among Christians.
Somehow, a significant percentage of Christians discovered a way to be Christian without being
church-going Christians—in other words, without being an active participant in a Christian community.
We’re still looking for that Bible passage.
This is also why culture and politics have such influence over Christians. Most Christians are much,
much more invested in culture and politics than their Christian faith.
And, when it comes to culture and politics, too many Christians want to pick and choose things from
their Christian faith that supports the way they personally want things to be in their world.
The real truth is—being a true Christian is hard, very hard. And, this is why so many people are either
leaving the Christian faith or identifying themselves as ‘Christians’ in name only—or, as it enhances
some other cause or purpose in their lives.
G.K. Chesterton in a book titled What Is Wrong with the World? written in 1910 said about the
Christian faith, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and
We as Christians tend to rely on the love and grace of Jesus Christ as the last thing we’ll turn to after all
other alternatives have failed to get us what we want in life—because, those alternatives seem easier,
more enjoyable, more likely to get us to where we want to go, or make things the way we think they
Another great Christian mind, Soren Keirkegaard, said this about the Christian faith, “On the whole
there is nothing as easy and nothing as sociable as going astray. But if your ultimate and highest goal is
to have life made easy and sociable, then never become involved with Christianity.”
Today’s culture and society is not only making it easier to not be an active Christians, our culture and
society is really believing that there are better answers, more enlightened ideas, and multiple paths to a
fulfilled and happy life that are different or better than what Biblical Christianity offers.
We agree, Christianity is difficult and is getting more and more difficult. The answer to the current
challenge is not to fight the cultural trends or get angry about any of this.
The answer still is, and always has been, to meet all challenges with the love of Jesus Christ. There is
no circumstance in life in which anyone may find themselves that can’t be loved through by Jesus Christ.
The hard part is not letting ourselves be convinced by culture and society that there is any better
alternative or answer—or, a more creative and adaptive form of Christianity.
No matter how difficult it may be to be a Christian, it is guaranteed that the grace of Jesus Christ will
always enable anyone to be that genuine and faithful Christian that Jesus gave His life for us to be.
Newsletter (PDF format): newsletter-May 2019
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