Saturday, May 15, 2010

America's Spiritual Crisis and the Unintended Consequence of Spiritual Lethargy (pt.1)

There is a spiritual crisis in America today, that I believe is near breaking point levels. What I am referring to is the spiritual bankruptcy of society. In March of 2009 The Barna Group published a survey that examined the changing worldview of Christians over the past 13 years. It can be found here:

Change in Churches worldview

In the article they define a Biblical Worldview as:

"believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today." -Simple foundational Christian doctrine.

If you believed each of the statements to be true then you were considered to hold to their definition of the biblical worldview. The results were astonishing! Only 9% of today’s self proclaimed Christian population wholeheartedly believed those statements. After reading it maybe you find yourself belonging to the majority who do not believe their stated definition as well. Please, read on.

At some point in time the cultural shift in America has resulted in the deteriorating spiritual health of our society and nation. Honestly, I know most of the reasons and, at least, many pseudo reasons some may give for their part in the decline. Things we will discuss a little later.  I believe what we need in America is a new spiritual Awakening.

That awakening started with me many years ago.  I grew up in a small town in Kansas. Yes, it was the Bible belt. But our town only had two churches; a Presbyterian and a Catholic. My family was not Christian and most of my neighborhood was not as well. But I went to a VBS (Vacation Bible School) one summer at the PC and was enamored with the music, crafts, games, refreshments, and most of all the small Bibles that they gave away. I had never seen one before. I was around 5-6 years old. There was one other thing that caught my attention as well, a mural or very large picture that was adorning the rear wall of the fellowship hall. It was a picture of Jesus hugging children as they draped themselves around Him. I was spellbound by it.

Now as a small child we are vulnerable to believe just about anything. I was no different. I actually thought God lived in the church building. In the Christian world we often talk about an overwhelming peace that comes over our body and mind that is almost euphoric. It is definitely not estimable. It is that very peace that overwhelmed me whenever I came near the church. The book of Acts relates a story about the reaction of the crowds concerning the passing shadow of Peter.

"…they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them." Acts 5;15 NKJV

The following verse states they were all healed. For me Peter’s shadow was the church yard. Whenever I entered the church property I was overwhelmed with peace. I spent most of my weekend afternoons sitting on the steps of the church in total contentment. I just knew God lived in the building. That peace is still with me today.

Of course we know God does not live in a physical building. At that age I didn’t. But one thing I did know was He existed, His presence was around me, and He was drawing me to Himself. It wouldn't be till a few years later that I would respond to the call on my heart. A gentleman took the time out of his schedule to invite me to another church in another town and explain to me how to become Christian and I did. God has never changed. He is still calling us.

I relate all of this because I knew I had a choice to make. The moment I understood what the drawing power of God was I had to make one. That choice to me meant believing everything that God revealed in His word or not believing at all. I have never been of the stripe who says I can still believe in God but not believe in what is revealed in scripture. To me, the scripture is our foundation. If only part of it is true or, if I decide to pick and choose what I want to believe then I have never fully surrendered to God. I have not had that battle with God over what I am struggling with as He reveals it in His word. If only our Christian walk was like our hobbies. If I like woodworking I must learn to become a woodworker. The more I learn the better I will be. It is the same with God. If we prized our faith in God as much as our hobbies then maybe I wouldn't be writing this article.

But today we have a society full of many ills, and the Church is not blameless. Sure we would like to blame the competition; too much entertainment, God being taken out of public schools, the separation of church and state, other religions, modernism, and many other excuses. But the truth is none, absolutely none, of these things would have taken hold to the extent they have if the Church had not become lax in its mission. Long ago, if we had set it in our hearts to teach the true gospel to every man woman and child and to not allow deceptive doctrines that promise hope based in a pseudo freedom that separates from God…we may not be in this mess. Instead decisions that concern the result of every technological advance, every discovery that has led to new knowledge, every textbook, every congressional law, every politician, every professor, and every church leader would have been tempered with Christian morals and ethics. Sure within the church era there will and always would be opposition. Our enemy is strong. But sadly, we have let down our guards.

I am not talking about a theocracy or living in a world that consists only of Law. No one wants that and that is not true Christianity. God has never been in the business of making paper doll cut out Christians. I am talking about a world that has the true freedom that only God can give through Jesus Christ. Think about it; for every Christian teaching there is also an anti-Christian teaching. God created the world; the world was created via a Big Bang. God created man; man came from an ape. Man will one day be judged by God; man is his own judge. The dichotomy can go on and on. The world purposely fights the teaching of God in order to release itself from His submission. Like Satan, the world wants to be its own God. Truly, we need only understand that true freedom is not in running from God but in submitting to Him. Why? Because He holds the Installation guide for our lives. The Bible tells us that “We are His workmanship”. Literally the Greek states we are His “poiema”, His poem. And it is God who has written the stanzas for our Life. We are His work. Our salvation is His work, not our own, cp. eph 2:10. We will never be able to do enough good to get to heaven. It is His righteousness that gets us a ticket to heaven not ours, cp. 2 cor. 5:21. That’s the true Gospel, the true Good News! I am so happy and so free to know my salvation does not rest on my shoulders but upon the finished work of Christ via the cross and resurrection; His substitution and my old life for His new life.

When we fully realize those things…when we fully realize that God became man to identify with us so he might represent us... when we fully realize that as our Creator He has destined us in every way with a blessed direction in life as we place our unfeigned faith in Him, then will we experience the life God intended.  However, If we choose to ignore His offer, sorrowfully, we will only see God as nothing but an evil judge and liar, one to be shunned. That’s what the majority of the world has done and the current state of America is the mess we are in.

Stay tuned, next posting we will look more closely at the mess and what we can do to help clean it up.


Anonymous said...

I am so glad that someone has finally created a blog that will tell the truth and give hope instead of guilt. There is enough guilt to go aroung, but that was not Christ's intent. He will offer His grace wherever we are if we just ask. Amazing Grace saved a wretch like me and He will do the same for anyone that asks. Prayers and Peace, Brenna