Less religion, more Jesus
By: Dr. Linda Mintle
I was talking to a young adult the other day and he told me he was spiritual, but he doesn’t go to church. Church, he decreed, is only for the religious. It isn’t authentic. He prided himself on not being one of those religious people. Rather, he had his own form of spirituality.
While 74% of Americans still identify as Christians, they have less faith in organized religion than they did a decade ago. Around 21% say they do not practice any formal religion.
Religion loses its influence in a culture when it is not practiced regularly among the masses. Take most television shows and movies–our daily pulpit. You rarely hear religious views written in to scripts. For example, people can be dying and there is no mention of an afterlife. Relationship problems never mention prayer or values that could help people in crisis. I just saw a science fiction movie about space and the universe and there was not one reference to God. Really, you are alone in the universe and you never consider the possibility of God? Unfortunately, this is often true of most media. And media promote values and views of life that influence behavior.
The importance of practicing a religion is that it influences our daily lives and the way we treat each other. Religion grounds us with important values. And the way a person is discipled into their faith usually requires some religious training and learning.
So the more we don’t participate in church or organized religion, the more we tend to drift away from the apologetics of our faith. Then religion doesn’t inform our actions. The fall out of this is often mental health issues that we don’t connect to the resiliency and hope that true religion brings to peoples’ lives. Religion, is not a weakness as Freud once posed, but a way to organize your life with meaning and purpose.
Perhaps going back to church is a goal to consider. Not because it is the religious thing to do. In church, one would hope that you would worship God in a corporate setting. More importantly, church would be one place you set aside time to encounter Christ and allow Him to work in your heart. Yes, that can be accomplished any place or time during the week, but there is something powerful about worshipping with fellow Christians.
One reason I hear as to why people stop going to church is because they do not feel they encounter Jesus. More of what they feel is empty rituals or activities that bring little attention to the life changing power of Christ. It is the person of God that gives our religion meaning. Church needs to be a place of corporate encounter of God’s presence.
Church is where we can dig deep in learning about the apologetics of our faith. Why do we believe what we believe? And how does a relationship with Christ change a person? The more discipled in the issues of faith we become, the more we change and then can influence our culture for good and bring hope to people. And right now, that would be a welcomed influence.
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