We live in an age and culture where tradition religion is being rejected along with absolute truth. I think this rejection has several aspects to it. First, we live in the entertainment generation who have short attention spans and want attention getting presentations be it audio, video, or spoken. We already have a million things in our lives vying for time and attention so the church has to step it up or not make the cut.
Second, while this generation of Americans may be the first to not be better off than their parents, still compared to 100 years ago or 1000 years ago we are much better off on average. Most of us simply have not lived a hard life. Some for sure but you don’t have to go back very far in history to arrive at a time when daily living was hard. A time when there were no grocery stores, microwave ovens, washers and dryers, cars, and so on. Putting food on the table, a roof over your head, and trying to stay healthy consumed most of your time. Life was fragile and realizing you were not in control came easy. Today’s generation though feel they have everything under control. They feel entitled. They have wants but few needs unless they live in poverty or have poor health. The idea of needing a Savoir is foreign to them. They don’t need anything and certainly not a savoir. Saved from what?
It is popular these days to be spiritual but not religious. Usually by “religion” people mean organized religion (i.e. a church or denomination). People cite numerous reasons they have left churches. Among them: schedule, boring, not wanting someone to tell them how they should live. They want everything catered to them from the teaching to the children’s ministries to the coffee. Being spiritual can mean anything. Often, it’s a hodgepodge of new age beliefs perhaps mixed in with a little Christianity but rarely anything resembling Biblical Christianity.
Christians are increasingly seen as narrow minded, bigoted, unscientific, close minded, and trying to force their beliefs on everyone. Outsiders believe Christians believe as they do only because they were raised that way and see themselves as more enlightened because they arrived at their own beliefs independent of how they were raised. Of course, this precludes the possibility that someone might do their own thinking and arrive at the conclusion that the faith they were raised in is the right faith. It is assumed that at some subconscious level they are biased by their upbringing.
Yet I believe the single predominant reason people reject Christianity is the propositional nature of it. We want a belief system that we can craft for ourselves that is positive and has no potential negative consequences. No one or nothing to judge us. No one or nothing to be accountable to. We want a philosophy to live by not a faith in a living God who commands us. It comes down to us wanting to be on the throne and not God.
We want whatever makes us happy. We want happiness without any effort. We expect God to give us that happiness requiring nothing from us in return.
The first great proposition of the Bible is that we are sinners separated from God
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:22)
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12)
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)
Why do we need a savior? Because our end is death as the fruit of our sinful lives. This is not referring to our eventual physical death but rather our present spiritual death. We are already spiritually dead due to our sins and each breath we take is merely biding time until this life is over and then comes judgment. We are inmates on death row except we are already dead. Greater punishment awaits but we are already dead. We have rejected and sinned against a holy God and there is nothing we can do on our own to get right with God. Yet God, rich in mercy, provided us with a solution. That solution is Jesus. Probably the most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Cor. 7:10)
Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness (Romans 4:4-5)
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)
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
“So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. (Acts 26:19-20)
So salvation is a gift from God we appropriate by faith. Such faith should lead us to repent and turn from our sins to a living God. That requires change. That means striving to live life God’s way not our way. It means being obedient to God. Jesus’ obedience led him to the cross. He died, according to God’s will, and resurrected to bring us victory over death both physical and spiritual. His disciples, particularly the Apostles, left everything to follow him. They left jobs, families, homes and followed Jesus for 3 years around a dusty countryside often sleeping outside at night. After Jesus returned to heaven they preached the Gospel (or “good news”) until their deaths. All but the Apostle John were martyred. Following Jesus was not easy yet not one of them regretted his decision.
No one wants to hear about repentance, sacrifice, denial. We want to indulge our flesh not deny it. We want to live as we see fit. No dusty roads and sleeping outside for us. No God does not require us to sleep outside but He does require us to follow him. To follow we must stop heading down our present path and turn and follow His. We don’t know what peaks and valleys that path will take us through but we know Jesus will walk it with us and at the end it will lead into eternal life.
God’s proposition is this: we are dead in our sins and He offers forgiveness if we will humble ourselves, believe, and follow. It means moving off the throne of our lives and letting God sit on it.
What say you to God’s proposition? Are you going to continue to follow your own path or God’s? Do you really think you can be happy leading a life that is not directed by the God who created you and loves you more than you love yourself? The choice is yours. In John 3:16 Jesus said “whosoever will come…” You must be a whosoever.