I Still Believe
The End of Christian America
Can America Survive as a Post-Christian Nation?
These are just two headlines that came up when I searched the internet for the words “the end of Christianity in America.” I wish I could stand up and say that they are wrong about America becoming a “Post-Christian nation,” but it’s happening right in front of our eyes. Yes, we still have megachurches, and yes, there are places where people of faith thrive, but more and more these days it seems that we’re on the outside looking in at a world that just can’t wrap its arms around the idea of faith in God.
I was so blessed last year to be a part of a gathering of Military Chaplains at Fort Bragg, NC. My only role there was to lead worship and then sit in on the conversations. It was so fascinating to be in a room where the separation of Church and State was so real and the line was so fine. I walked away from that week with an incredible admiration for those men and women in the chaplaincy of the US Army. The thing that I found so incredible was the way that they studied the word of God. They studied the word so deeply that it became a part of their being and after sitting in on their meetings I understood just how important it had to be. These men and women had to have constant conversations with young soldiers who had the deepest and most burning questions you could ever imagine about God but they also had to be prepared for the war that is always being waged upon the chaplaincy by those who wish they weren’t a part of the Army at all. WOW! Talk about a tough spot to be in. As I got ready to leave that week I was blessed to have a few minutes alone with an amazing man who handed me a couple of books that were a part of his daily meditations. Upon opening the first one, it dawned on me how deep he really was and how much deeper I needed to go! How much deeper we need to go.
It’s so easy to allow our Christianity to be the afterthought of every part of our lives. It’s easy because it seems that we’ve been lulled to sleep by tradition. Our church lives can be relegated to showing up on Sunday and occasionally on Wednesday nights, but apart from that most of us are busy living the American Dream…or should I say chasing it? For my friends in the Armed Services, it’s an every moment-of-the-day kind of thing. Do you know why? Because they’re lives depend on it! What do you have when you know that you are walking into a battle that will leave some people dead??? Hope. Confidence. The knowledge and hope that there is a God who is everything He says He is and MORE.
The things that they have seen with their now eyes would either cause a person extreme doubt or extreme faith, and I am amazed by the reality of extreme faith that I saw exhibited in them. Not only that, but they also understand the power of the lives that they live to draw men into a relationship with Christ. They were kind, patient, and full of grace. They had been to war and back and were only emboldened to preach the gospel. Oh, that you and I would carry that urgency with us. How differently our lives would look and how much greater would the power of our testimony be if we actually stood and said that even after the battles we’ve been through WE STILL BELIEVE? Not because of some misplaced loyalty to a fairy tale, but because the reality of God moving in our lives is too great to ignore.
How do we carry that kind of hope and faith in the much simpler context of everyday life? Maybe you’re unaware, but your everyday life is actually a lot like a battlefield. We don’t think of it that way, but there is no guarantee of tomorrow for you or me. There is no guarantee of the next breath. Pause that for a second…that also means that there is no guarantee for those around us who we call “friends” that may not know the good news of Jesus. It’s our responsibility to share this amazing news that we have. Does your life make the unspoken statement of faith, “I STILL BELIEVE” in a “Post Christian America?” Moreover, are you actually taking steps to share this hope that you have with others who so desperately need the good news? Let’s be honest, the “Post Christian America” feels more hopeless than it has in years. The scripture says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepers the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18). HMMMM…maybe King Solomon was onto something there.
Recent polls confirm the increasing secularization of our people, especially the young. A poll by the Pew Foundation shows that the number of Americans describing themselves as Christian has declined by about 10% between 2007-2014. Meanwhile, those professing no religion grew by 50% in that same time frame. Fewer than 6 in 10 millennials (ages 18-33) affiliate with any branch of Christianity. A recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that 66% of those age 65 and over believe being Christian is an important part of being American, while only 35% of those ages18-29 agree. These numbers are changing remarkably quickly as Americans are seemingly losing their faith and becoming more like secular Europeans.
I think we can all agree a little hope is in order. So if you’re ready to be the light in a dark place, here are a few simple thoughts to help you boldly share the good news:
1) It is your responsibility to share the good news!!
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people
of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning
from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely
die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade
them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that
wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you
accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the
wicked person and they do not turn from their
wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their
sin; but you will have save yourself”
(Ezekiel 3:17–19, NIV).
2) Don’t be afraid of not having the right words. When God has ordained a moment, He will use the Holy spirit to give you the right words at the right time.
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” (Luke 12:11-12, NIV).
3) The Spirit will help you know when it’s time to speak but it’s your responsibility to seize the moment when the moment comes. Many have never seen or heard the good news brought to life!!!
“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
“How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe
in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone
preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’
“But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has
believed our message?’ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the
message is heard through the word about Christ”
(Romans 10:10–17, NIV).
4) Never underestimate how important it is that your testimony be obvious in the way you live!
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand,
and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before
others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”
(Matthew 5:15–16, NIV).
You are a powerful example of the Hope of Christ so live confidently!! Study the word of God daily! Trust the Holy Spirit to give you the words to speak!
Don’t be afraid to say…
“I STILL BELIEVE in a God who moves, in a God who still redeems, and His love holds on like gravity. This is my Gospel I’m not Ashamed about it. Give me a megaphone I’m not afraid to shout it… I STILL BELIEVE!”