We live in a world where true Christianity is becoming increasingly unpopular. Nothing highlights this more than Pride Month, the month of June. Some of this hatred towards us comes from who and what we represent. However, many of the wounds of Christianity are self-inflicted.
To establish a perspective, I am writing this as a Christ follower, imperfect in many ways but living under God’s grace and forgiveness. Over the course of my sixty or so years, I’ve witnessed the decline of Christianity in the U.S. in ways I would never have imagined. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we are a hated bunch. Jesus said in Matthew that we would be hated just as he was. That’s good, IF we are hated for all the right reasons. Here are some reasons I believe Christianity in America is on the decline.
Christ followers believe in the inerrant truths of the Bible. Those truths are often held in contempt because they challenge how we live and conduct ourselves. Few want to be told how to live life. We believe heaven and hell are real places that individuals can choose for themselves based on their beliefs, or their denial of Christ. It’s not God’s will that any should perish in hell; it’s our free will that determines our destiny. We believe in one truth and one path to heaven, namely Jesus. He said that no one approaches the Father except through him. In a world of the coexistence of all beliefs, this is highly unacceptable to many. We are called to love all people, even our enemies, but to stand up with compassion, against anything that goes against God’s instructions. Have done this correctly?
There are many divisive social and political issues where we as a church have shot ourselves in the foot. Again, nothing shows this more than the month of June. When Jesus dealt with the adulteress and the woman at the well, he did so with compassion and love. He didn’t condone their life choices but he did show mercy in each case. But our response to lifestyles we don’t accept is often mired in hatred and condemnation, not love and mercy. They aren’t welcomed in church and we shun them like the puritan days. We can’t love people into the Kingdom if we can’t even welcome them into our church pews.
Another of our self-inflicted wounds is our assignment of Christ to a political party. Quotes such as “You can’t be Christian if you vote for…” should never be uttered by a loving follower of Christ. In a two party system, such a stand automatically eliminates a full half of potential believers who will never give a thought to anything you have to say about our faith. In losing half of our constituency, it makes us no better than Target and Budweiser!
One last but glaring wound to Christianity is our tolerance of popular prosperity preachers who are allowed to exploit the gospel for a profit unchecked. I won’t mention names but the richest of these false prophets has a net worth of $650,000,000 and owns two jets and an 18,000 sq. ft. mansion. Another recently confessed he had chandeliers in his house worth more than most homes. Why have we tolerated such gross misrepresentations of the Gospel but go into convulsions regarding the LBGTQ+ community? Among the reasons listed as to why people don’t like Christianity, hypocrisy is always in the top two or three. As believers we aren’t afforded the privilege of wavering in our defense of the faith. And yet we are consistent in our inconsistencies when it comes to loving our neighbors and exposing antichrists.
I love my faith in Christ and I love my church, both my local church and the universal church, and will adamantly defend both when possible. I just don’t want to be the reason a brother is turned off of Christianity. I believe Christ is coming back for his church. I believe we are called to share this hope in love with as many who would believe. But I also believe if we are to ever return some lost credibility to the church, we have some house cleaning to do. This may be one of the more controversial posts I’ve written, but I offer it in love in hopes of healing the wounds we’ve caused so that the light of Jesus is all that is seen when others view his church. God bless you all and always. In Christ’s love.