Naked Christians, Wearing Only a Helmet
Jeff Hinson had an intriguing sermon recently, with statistics from Ed Stetzer’s new book entitled Christians in an Age of Outrage. I will borrow from this theme. One of the points made is that many Christians can’t understand why the United States has so many “Christians” and yet so many politically correct (but non-biblical) issues being adopted over the past 50+ years. Stetzer provides answers.
They determined four groups from their survey’s: Non-Christians, Cultural Christians, Congregational Christians, and Convicted Christians. Non-Christians are obvious. People who want no part of Christianity, either because they belong to another religion, or because they are atheist or just not interested. Cultural Christians are comprised of those who self-identify as “Christian” because they are simply borrowing from their heritage but have no real church connection. Congregational Christians are those who actually go to church on occasion, but typically rare occasion, like Easter or Christmas. They are mostly ignorant of Christian teaching and values, but they still have this light connection. Finally, are Convicted Christians. They are those who go to church regularly, have Bible based values, are imperfect, but maturing and seeking to follow where their Lord leads.
When national surveys report things like the divorce rate of “Christians” being about the same as non-Christians, we get concerned. But those surveys typically wrap all three “Christian” groups into one. When you look at Convicted Christians as a stand-alone group, they have a much smaller divorce rate (70% less chance). We hear about kids abandoning church as soon as they get out of high school. The kids of Convicted Christians tend to stay in church, different than the national statistics would lead you to believe when all the Christian groups are lumped into one.
But even among the Convicted Christian group, things have changed. Not many years ago to be considered a “regular” church goer, you had to attend 3 out of 4 weeks a month. Today that has become 3 out of 8 times, or not even half the time over a two-month period. And yet, the regular church goers still have better marriages, better success passing on their faith to the kids, a much more developed “worldview” to approach life with, along with a better support system in place.
Researchers see significant gaps at two places: between the non-Christians and the Cultural and Congregational; and the gap between the other three and Convicted Christians. The Convicted Christian numbers (attending church, being active in service, etc.) have stayed pretty consistent. But the Cultural and Congregational keep getting more liberal and further away from what the Bible teaches. That’s the source of our countries move to the left. People who call themselves Christian, but in truth are not.
The Apostle Paul talks about putting on the full armor of God. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of gospel peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). Far too many only want the helmet of salvation and stand naked to the culture they are in otherwise. That’s a visual that says it well. What group do you fit in? Is there room for improvement, and what next step is needed?
Cross Point: You can sign up for a marathon, even get the t-shirt the day of the event, but you’ll struggle, possibly get sick and have numerous consequences, probably not even finish the race, if you haven’t trained. Without the training of Bible study, prayer, service, and Christian fellowship for encouragement, gaining a Christian worldview, you won’t fare much better.