Do you consider yourself to be a Christian? That is a question that I have asked countless people. The vast majority of people are not offended when I ask that question, maybe because I am a pastor. They expect me to ask such questions and they usually are eager to talk. It is rare that anyone tells me they are not a Christian and are going to hell. Almost everyone says they are going to heaven. Then I ask them, “Why do you think you are a Christian?” I usually get two responses: 1) they have believed in Jesus Christ or 2) they are a good person. How would you respond? Are you a Christian?
If you consider yourself to be a Christian, let me pry and ask, “Do you obey Jesus?” The problem with many who say they obey Jesus is that they obey only what fits into their comfort zone and they ignore the commands they do not like. Now if you were a nine year old child at home and only obeyed the commands you liked, your parent(s) would not say you are an obedient child. Yet, there are many so called Christians who are like the nine year old. You might say, “Oh, I prayed that prayer. I study my Bible, pray, and enjoy gospel music. I do not witness because that might offend someone. I don’t do everything God wants, but He understands. Can I ask, “Are you a post-Christian?” Now this is an important question because you might just be one. Read on and find out if you are a post-Christian.
According to Gallup’s tracking polls since 1944, at least 92% of Americans believe in God. In short, the United States has been a Christian nation since its beginning with a huge majority professing to be Christians. Yet, America is becoming more post-Christian with each passing year. Just about now you are probably wondering what is a post-Chrstian, right? Keep reading. The answer is coming.
The Barna Group has conducted 43,000 interviews in recent years in an attempt to determine how post-Christian we are. According to a recent Barna poll,
“. . . 63 percent of people rank “low” on the Barna Group’s post-Christian scale, however, while 28 percent are considered “moderately” post-Christian and nine percent are considered ‘highly’ post-Christian.
The post-Christianity scale is based on 15 faith-related metrics researchers have tracked in recent years.”
So, are you post-Christian? According to Barna’s poll, a person is considered to be more and more post-Christian the more they fail to live like a Christian. Barna used fifteen questions to determine if someone is post-Christian. For example, several of the questions they asked were 1) did they attend church last year, 2) give money to a church last year, 3) volunteered at church last week, 4) attended Sunday school or 5) believed in God? Those are just five questions of the fifteen they asked.
Depending upon their answers they revealed that while claiming to be a Christian, they did not really act like one. If you examine 1 John 5:13, you will find that the book was written so that you and I can determine if we are a Christian. So, the idea of checking someone’s behavior to determine if they are a Christian is a biblical idea. Barna also asked if the person was an atheist. Did they believe that faith was important in their lives? Depending upon their answer, it suggested whether or not they were a Christian. While 92% plus Americans claim to believe in God, it is clear from the polling that many so-called Christians are either not Christians or do not act like one. What were Barna’s results?
Barna randomly sampled ninety-eight cities. The results are surprising and yet not surprising. For example, Albany, New York is the most post-Christian city in America with 63% of the residents admitting that they did not behave like a Christian. Burlington, New York is second. Portland, Maine is ranked third, San Francisco is ranked sixth, Boston is seventh and New York is ninth.
The Barna poll is not concerned about a person like my friend who did not attend church last Sunday in order to take his daughter on a hike into the mountains in order “to connect with God.” He shared how they talked about God all the way up and down. But why did he do that on Sunday and not Saturday? I cannot tell you how many people tell me they worship God at home, in their backyard on Sunday or up in the mountains. I hear such things especially around Super Bowl Sunday or when a NFL game occurs Sunday, morning. They claim they get in touch with God so much better at home.
I hear about believers who do not give money to God because He understands that they need their money to live on and then spend their extra money to buy MacDonald’s hamburgers, Chicago Pizza or a new iPhone. Some even take an airline trip to celebrate their birthday, but God doesn’t get anything. How about the person who stays home to worship, listening to the television evangelists or reading their Bible? They explain that they learn so much more and they give their money to the television preachers and their ministries. Sound like a good deal? They have the convenience of home, no accountability, no need to struggle with loving the person in the seat next to them who might offend them, and no need to connect with anyone. If during the sermon they want some coffee and a croissant, they can leave the message for a minute and then come back. I wonder do they sing along with the folks in the service? Oh, I forgot the television programs often do not broadcast the song service or the reading of scripture or the rest of the service.
What is worse, is that the unaccountable-Christians does not know the pastor personally or any church leaders. They do not have a pastor-shepherd to care for them. No spiritual leader knows anything about them. They cannot participate in communion since they are not there. They cannot be affected by the testimonies given at a baptismal service of people who share how they have turned control of their lives over to God because they were not there. They cannot participate in any social activities at the church. They cannot help at the church and participate in the body life with other believers. If we are honest, they do not want to. They do not want any of that. They just want to have church their way and when they want it. This describes the majority of post-Christians. That is what Barna wanted to discover. How many of them are there? Are you one of them?
At the same time, a record number of “Christians” are voting to support politicians who advocate abortion, who support gay marriage, who object to or denounce God, and do not want to live within the financial means God provides. These “Christians” look the other way when their political party is wrong saying, “It is just politics, everyone does it.” Then they pray that Jesus comes quickly because of all the wickedness they cannot tolerate. But they voted for some of it. These “Christians” do not stand for holiness or justice. They bury their head, ignore God’s call to be salt and light in a sinful world, to stand for godliness, and vote for their godless politician anyway. They share in the creation of the wickedness and then want to escape. Yet, such people feel godly when they see evil because they can complain about it. I wonder if they realize that complaining does not make them spiritual or godly. Even godless men sees the increasing evil.
A recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life poll revealed a tremendous swing has occurred among “Christians.” The number of unaffiliated in America has increased from less than 5% of the population to about 20%. That is, there is a 15% increase in the number of people, including so-called Christians, who are no longer attached to a church. The pollsters added that the “nominal Christians” are now becoming the “nones.”
The Real Christian
Maybe the scariest passage in the Bible is Matthew 7:21-23.
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.” Matt. 7;21-23 (NASB)
It is clear that Jesus is talking about religious people who think they are going to heaven. Jesus says that some day they will complain when they state that they were religious, were involved in different ministries, did various miracles and spoke on behalf of the Lord Jesus. Yet, Jesus will say, “I never knew you . . .” He will say this to religious people. What a shock that will be! While we cannot tell someone that they are not Christians, we can tell folks that the absence of spiritual fruit in their life and the abandonment of fellowship with the saints (Heb. 10:24-25; 1 John 2:19) does not look very good (Matt. 7:15-20).
When some of these “Christians” say that they do not want to go to church because of the people there, I am usually reminded of 1 John 3:10 which says that a true Christian wants fellowship with other believers and will love the brethren.
By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:10 (NASB)
What is the message? If they were truly children of God, then they would want to be with fellow believers – not stay aloof. Hebrews 10:24-25 warns us, even commands us, to not avoid attending church. That is, go to church! Those who don’t are disobedient “Christians.” God is not pleased with them.
2 Timothy 4:3 adds this,
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires . . . 2 Tim. 4:3 (NASB)
This is epidemic among the so-called “Christians.” They want the preacher to teach “their way.” So, we have “Christians” who stay home and shop for their favorite television pastor until he does something that they do not like. Maybe they become bored with him after awhile, like that new car that is not new any longer, and then they pick up the television remote and with a click of a button find another preacher who is more entertaining. That is modern post-Christianity. So many so-called Christians claim that it is okay with God that they do not go to church. So they don’t and won’t because they do not want to. However, we must remember that some cannot attend church due to physical illness or other physical problems. Yet, that is not the reason for all – some are not true Christians and never were. They heard the good news and then just like the second soil in Matthew 13:20-21, they have finally left after they were offended or hurt by something or someone. They were never real in the beginning. Or, maybe they are like the third soil. The passing pleasures of sin and wealth have choked the Word and because their eyes are on the world, the Bible seems unimportant. Now they reveal that they never knew Jesus as Savior and Lord.
However, we should not be surprised. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 predicted that in the end times many will apostatise or fall away.
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction . . . 2 Thess. 2:3 (NASB)
They look good but they aren’t. They hear but eventually leave. May be days, months or even years before it becomes obvious.
In Revelation 2-3 God rebukes five of seven churches. Of those he rebukes, one has lost its first love (Rev. 2:4), a second one had moved into immorality (Rev. 2:14-15), both the second and third were into false teaching (Rev. 2:19-22), the fourth one looked good but was dead (Rev. 3:1) and the last one was the apostate church (Rev. 3:15-17) – the comfortable Christians.
In an interview with Francis Chan, he was asked by someone what he thought about lukewarm Christian. He added quickly that there is no such thing as a lukewarm Christian. Revelation 3:16-17 describes lukewarm Christian as blind, naked, wretched, and miserable and He even says, “I will spew you out of My mouth.” Then Francis Chan says, “That does not sound like Christians to me.” Francis adds that most of our churches today are filled with people who think they are going to heaven because they said a prayer or were involved in some ministry, but Jesus is not really the Lord and master of their life. They do not really want to obey Jesus. They are like a little child, picking and choosing what they want to obey. In short, they are disobedient. They appear to be post-Christians. The truth is many of our churches are lukewarm if not just cold. There is a growing lack of love for others. Jesus predicted that love would grow cold in the last days. Is this you?
Even the Pharisees thought they were holy men headed for heaven. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day read their Torah, prayed, sang songs and were involved in ministry. Yet, Jesus said they were going to hell. Jesus rebuked them.
Be warned, you can think you are Christian. You can read your Bible, pray to God, know doctrine just like the Pharisees and still go to hell. James reminds us that our conduct is a mirror of our true relationship with God.
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. James 1:22-24 (NASB)
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:26 (NASB)
What is your response? Are you a post-Christian – maybe not really a Christian at all? If you think you are not a Christian, then please submit to the Lord, who loves you more than you can imagine, and serve Him as Lord. Get involved with a sound church, and ask God to fill your heart with love for the brethren.
Ask yourself, “Do I love Jesus Christ with my entire being and is He in control of my life?” If you are honest, you will make some changes in what you are doing. If you think you are okay and no changes need to be made, then ask God to show you those areas He wants changed.
Worship is our inner response to God. I have found that only comes as I bathe myself in His truth – the Word of Truth.
1. Gallup (http://www.gallup.com/poll/147887/Americans-Continue-Believe-God.aspx).
2. CP U.S. (http://www.christianpost.com/news/america-becoming-increasingly-post-christian-research-shows-93967/).
3. Christianity Today (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/december/end-of-nominal-protestantism.html).
4. Youtube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UGt42UbVqg).