Recently, as we were waiting in our car to go into a business, we watched as an employee bowed down repeatedly before a statue of Buddha that was surrounded by candy and candles. About a week before that, my wife Tammy had a conversation with a family friend who admitted that she had absolutely no interest in God and never has. These two situations made me think about why so few believe in Jesus today. Here are some random and somewhat rambling thoughts about that.
We live in an increasingly secular culture today. As I was growing up, few businesses were open on Sunday. Now, it is the rare (Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby) business that is closed on Sunday; everything else is open. Why is this so?
Research studies confirm the increasingly secular nature of our culture. For example, the Pew Research Center tells us that about three in ten U.S. adults (29%) are religious “nones,” those who describe themselves as not having any religious identity. Membership in houses of worship continued to decline in 2021, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999. Every two years, through their State of Theology survey, Ligonier Ministries takes the “theological temperature” of the United States to help Christians better understand today’s culture and equip the church with better insights for discipleship. The 2020 State of Theology survey results revealed an urgent need for clear biblical teaching on the person of Christ, the gospel of grace, and the way that the truth of God informs our ethical decisions in everyday life.
Some people will say that they believe in God, but do they believe God? Is it some generic “god” that they believe in, or is it the holy God of the Bible? Some people have no problem believing in many gods or consider themselves to be “spiritual” but rebel against the idea of the exclusivity of Jesus.
I remember years ago having a conversation with a friend who had never given me any reason to believe that he was a follower of Jesus. Despite this, he stunned me with his assurance, telling me that he had accepted Jesus as his personal savior many years earlier as a teenager. Sadly, I had never seen any fruits in his life. R.C. Sproul often said that it is the possession of faith, NOT the profession of faith that is important.
Now I know that salvation is wholly a work of God. Jesus himself said:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Knowing that as a theological truth, it is still puzzling why so few people believe in Jesus today. Perhaps they believe that there is nothing past this life. Or perhaps they believe in what is called universalism, in which everyone will go to Heaven when they die.
Your beliefs can be influenced by where you were born and the family you grew up in. I was born in the United States and raised in a family in which we went to church each Sunday.
Despite that upbringing, the Lord did not save me until I was in my late 20s. We have many friends who raised their children in the church, but their children are not walking with the Lord today. Unlike Europe, where churches are now museums, we still have lots of churches available on street corners as well as radio, Internet, books, and TV Christian teaching available. So it’s not for lack of available information.
These are thoughts that have been rattling around in my head for the past week or so. It leaves me wondering what to do. Are there people on your prayer list that you pray for salvation? They may very well know where you stand as far as your faith. Why not be a good friend to them and be there for any questions they may have about life and faith?
Written by Bill Pence
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Christian Grandfather Magazine
Featured Image by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen on Unsplash
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