I’ve been reviewing some sad yet interesting statistics on Christianity. Here are some that really stood out to me.
- While Christianity is still the largest religious group (as of 2015) in the world with around 2.3 billion professing to be “Christian”, in Europe Christians are actually dying faster than they are being born and Christianity is in decline.
- Muslims are the second largest religious group around the world with an estimated growth of 70% from 2015-2060.
- 32% of the world’s population is considered to be Christian with the largest nation being America at 79.5% of the population (around 247 million in 2010).
- 78% of adults in America identify as Christian, but there are over 1,500 “faith groups” that identify as Christian including “Roman Catholic and Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed, Baptists, Pentecostals, Amish, Quakers, Adventists, Messianic, Independent, Communal, and Non-Denominational.”
- In 2010, 550 million Christians were spread throughout Europe with the largest populations in Russia and Germany.
- Finally, around 160,000 Christians are martyred for their faith worldwide each year.
These facts are certainly interesting and some of them scary. But the thing that really hits me is that 78% of Americans identify as Christian. Why then, is American society becoming more and more godless?
That’s a pretty easy question to answer. Not everyone who calls themselves a Christian or is affiliated with a certain religious group or church is actually a born-again follower of Jesus.
In “Mere Christianity” C.S. Lewis writes that the word “gentleman” used to mean one thing – that a man held a title and thus was a gentleman. It had nothing to do with his character, just that he had a title and land. But then people took that word and decided to use it to describe a man who acted a certain way, that man was considered a gentleman. They took what the word “gentleman” meant and perverted it to mean what they wanted it to mean. Lewis warns that the same could happen to the word “Christian.” He wrote this from his talks back in 1941-1944 and now, over 70 years later, it has done just that. Christian no longer means what it used to mean.
When people were first called Christians, they were being described literally as Christ-followers, or even “little Christs” because they were Jesus’ hands and feet on the Earth. They were born-again believers (John 3:1-21) who followed the teachings of Jesus and, later, once the full Bible had been written, followed the precepts that God put down in His Word.
Today, however, people call themselves Christians because they believe in God, or think themselves good people, or go to a certain church, or follow a certain religion. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going into a CEOs office and sitting in his chair actually makes you a CEO. People have perverted the word “Christian” to mean whatever they want it to mean. That is how we can live in a country where 78% of adults identify as Christians yet most live their lives like the devil.
“Don’t judge or you too will be judged,” is probably your thought right now. But have you ever read the entirety of that passage of Scripture?
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:1-6)
If you notice, Jesus never says that we can’t ever take the speck out of our brother’s eye. Rather, we have to first take the plank from our own eye, than we can see clearly enough to take the speck from our brother’s eye. If we are judging hypocritically, doing the very thing we judge in others, then we are not taking the plank out of our eye.
Jesus also says to be careful not to throw pearls before swine. What does that mean? It means that not everyone wants your opinion or can appreciate your wisdom. Sometimes you just need to stay quiet, especially with foolish people who refuse to listen to truth or reason. You can’t help people if they won’t see the plank in their own eye.
But, if we are instead merely judging by their fruit, we aren’t judging wrongly. Check out this passage of Scripture:
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:13-23)
The same chapter of Matthew, in fact, it’s usually on the same page of your Bible, tells us that we are to judge others so we can look out for false prophets. Not everyone who declares that they are Christian will get into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus says that He will say to those people, “I never knew you,” because they believed in God with their minds but shunned Jesus in their hearts. They did not do the will of Father God. And we know these people by their fruit. What fruit are we looking at here? Well, the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Let me say first that we aren’t all going to display all the fruits of the Spirit at all times. There are areas where we each struggle and God is growing us, but we know we are producing fruit if we acknowledge these areas of weakness and allow God to water and grow these fruits of the Spirit through trials and discipline in our lives.
Now, look at the people who claim to be Christians and ask yourself, are they showing fruit? Those “Christians” who hate homosexuals instead of loving them to Jesus aren’t showing the fruit of love, peace, or kindness. The “Christians” who bomb abortion clinics instead of showing these confused women another way, a way of love and peace, certainly aren’t showing fruits of love, peace, or self-control.
I’m not talking about personal convictions you have on your own life. If you watch certain things on TV, that is between you and God. If you want to drink alcohol, that is between you and God. If you dress a certain way that may be inappropriate, that is between you and God. If you are against eating certain things, that is between you and God. None of those things have anything to do with the fruit of the Spirit or salvation at all. You can do any of those things and still be saved. That reminds me of this passage:
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God. 4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. 9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall. (1 Corinthians 8)
Don’t put your convictions on other Christians. Keep them to yourself and follow what God has told you to do. The only way we are to judge others is by the fruit of the Spirit. Only that can tell if someone is saved or not. The only way I judge if someone is born-again or not is by their fruit, not by what they watch or how they dress because we aren’t all convicted of the same things at the same time.
I could go on about when to judge and when not to judge, but that’s a topic for another time. One last thing, the same passage of Scripture above also tells us not to do things we know can cause other believers to stumble. So, if you know your friend is convicted in a certain area, don’t do it around them. We don’t want to cause one another to stumble.
To wrap up, this may have once been a Christian nation, but it has turned and is still turning into a godless society as people either don’t believe in God at all or, even worse, call themselves Christians but show no fruit of it because they think their religious affiliation can save them.
If you don’t see the fruit of the Spirit in your own life, maybe you need to question your own heart and motives. It’s easy to become born-again. Here’s what you do: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
Let’s be careful of calling ourselves Christian or thinking other people are Christians just because they say so. We need to judge them by their fruit and judge ourselves by our fruit as well.
I love you guys and I pray God continues to work mightily in your lives this week! God bless!