No, it’s not the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, though that’s a good one. I am thinking of the modern American Christian Church. Ours is going through Chuck Colson‘s “The Faith: Given Once for All” and in the first chapter he cites a few George polls (both Gallup and Barna). The stats are really crazy:
- 65% of American’s call themselves Christians. YET:
- The majority of evangelicals do not believe in absolute truth.
- 60% of American’s cannot name five of the 10 commandments.
- 50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.
- I could go on: Bottom line — not a lot of “real” here.
During this study, I also read “not a fan.
” by Kyle Idleman. (The premise of this book is that the majority of American Christians are “fans” of Jesus, maybe even raving fans like those in the Black Hole
section at a Raiders game at the Oakland Coliseum, but not many are followers.) There are stats in that book, too, but also some very hard-hitting truths, like “The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them.”
And, “One of the reasons our churches can become fan factories is that we have separated the message of ‘believe’ from the message ‘follow’.”
And here’s where I’m getting to: “…Some fans can be almost impossible to identify because they deliver Oscar-worthy performances as they play the role of a follower.” Kyle says this as “a recovering hypocrite.” So do I. The scary thing, though, is that Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23 that on the judgement day He will tell even people who performed miracles and other great works in His name to depart from Him because they did not follow Him — He says, “I never knew you: Get away from me.” That’s harsh. But it’s not unfair.
This makes sense in light of the admonishment, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Our Pastor talked about this in his message yesterday morning, agreeing with both Colson and Idleman and, of course, most importantly the Word of God: Believing is just the first step. Following is the second, and it’s not an option. “There is no forgiveness without repentance. There is no salvation without surrender. There is no life without death. There is no believing without committing.”
If, like me, you grew up believing that raising your hand and repeating a prayer after the pastor, going to church on Sunday, and maybe reading your Bible once in awhile was all it takes to “get into heaven” — you might rethink your relationship with Christ. I highly recommend both books from which I’ve quoted — both will give you plenty of opportunities to search God’s word for yourself:
God bless on your journey as a follower. Not a fan.