“A whole new generation of Christians has come up believing that it is possible to `accept’ Christ without forsaking the world” (A. W. Tozer).
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Jesus).
We have our work cut out for us. 96% of all church growth in America comes from transfer growth. 70% of the unchurched have no interest in church. While these statistics are shocking, they also have a silver lining. In the past, being a Christian generally meant you went to church periodically, you believed in Jesus, and you tried to abide by the Golden Rule…mostly. In the past, there was a Christian current that merely flowed along in our culture. To be an American, to a large degree, meant you were a Christian.
Those days are long gone.
Today, being a Christian means you’re swimming upstream. The chasm between cultural Christianity and personal devotion to Jesus is growing. This is the silver lining. Following Jesus means actually following Him, not just attending church services (or joining online). Following Jesus means our actions align with our faith. One-day-a-week religion is replaced with a lifestyle of joyful obedience.
In 1976, Francis Shaeffer wrote a book that has since become a classic, How Should We Then Live? He underscores how the majority of people have adopted two impoverished values: personal peace and affluence. He writes,
Personal peace means just to be let alone, not to be troubled by the troubles of other people, whether across the world or across the city—to live one’s life with minimal possibilities of being personally disturbed. Personal peace means wanting to have my personal life pattern undisturbed in my lifetime, regardless of what the result will be in the lifetime of my children and grandchildren. Affluence means an overwhelming and ever-increasing prosperity—a life made up of things, things, and more things—a success judged by an ever-higher level of material abundance.
When I first read those words years ago, I realized that much of my life was focused on desiring those two values. Even to this day, if I’m completely honest, personal peace and affluence tend to dictate a lot of my life choices.
And yet the way of Jesus calls me to a peace centered in Him. My quest for personal peace is realized in the peace Jesus offers. My quest for affluence comes to fruition when my concern for self is dissipated in my concern for others.
This is not mere “God-talk.” These truths are self-evident when we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. Only in following Him do we discover the abundant life He so graciously offers. And that, my friends, cuts against the current of cultural Christianity.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).