My morning usually follows the same routine: take the dog outside upon rising, make a cup of coffee, peruse the various news outlets, and compose an article. In between, there is the occasional shaking of the head in reading certain news. Of course, the ever burning questions are “what has happened to this nation” and “what has happened to this world?”
Today, while those questions bounded around with more questions as answers, an article at Newsmax.com caught my eye that reported Christianity was on the decline in the United States. The article cited a Pew Research Center study indicating that Americans who identify as Christians has dropped 8 percent over the last seven years – a trend that is crossing the lines of race, gender, education and geographic locations. Christianity is still dominant in the United States at 70 percent; however, it seems that individuals who are leaving Christianity are identifying as atheist or agnostic, becoming more secular.
USA Today reported that “Christian faiths are troubled by generational change – each successive group is less connected than their parents – and by ‘switching’ at all ages, the report shows.” David Silverman, president of American Atheists, claims it’s because “they’re right” and “more people know the facts.”
One has to ask, “Is all this true?” While polls and research studies are nice, they are also fallible, can be manipulated to show surveyor/researcher preferred results, and questions can be formulated to produce an inaccurate response. On the assumption the identified trend is accurate, what is causing this shift?
There could be many reasons this trend is occurring. However, to me, it boils down to one single problem – the nation’s Christian population is not being spiritually fed by the majority of its religious leaders, church pastors, and church elders resulting in a faulty foundation. If the foundation is weak, whatever is built upon it will also be weak.
In this day and age, many church pastors have ceased imparting the true Word and Wisdom of God in favor of a watered down version to prevent alienating much of their congregation and their community. These apostate reverends preach a “populist” version of The Word in order to excuse every sin currently being practiced by the affluent (elders and leaders) in their church.
How many have sat in services listening to a deacon speak about loving his family and God, bringing glory to God through strong families and teaching children the Word of God, but also know that particular deacon is engaged in adultery with his secretary, without remorse or repentance? Then, there is the businessman who sits in services, giving more than his tithe, who is praised for his contributions, his honesty, integrity and sacrifice in conducting the church business; but who, at his own employer, is embezzling funds. And, there is the man, who is divorced, who is honest, realizes his mistakes, asks forgiveness from God, lives the Word and ministers to those in need through his personal testimony who is refused a deacon position because of being divorced.
Unfortunately, these were situations I encountered as a youth in the “church” I attended at that time. Times have changed, but not for the better. These same situations are occurring in many churches around the nation. What kind of message does that send?
Along with that, “churches” sold their soul to the government in the form of a 501 c (3) tax exempt status which negates speaking the truth regarding obedience to government. Man cannot serve Christ and serve a government devoid of Christ as the two will be in conflict. How can true men of God support violating the word of God by instructing their congregation to follow unjust laws made by unjust, unrighteous men, instead of challenging these “laws?” The truth is they can’t, meaning these are not true men of God but rather servants of another master. In trying to “walk the fine line,” these men, themselves, lead their own congregation astray.
Once these men were led to overlook one aspect of God’s Word, it became easier to continue to overlook others leading to the acceptance of “government sanctioned” violation of God’s Word. They, in turn, imparted only a portion of God’s Word to their congregation that would appear to allow this violation. Infiltrates in God’s unquestionable domain have led good men down the road away from God’s truth. This, in turn, leads the young, easily influenced individuals to question the truth in God’s word when it is man’s truth that should be questioned.
Arise out of these ashes men like Joel Osteen, who impart a “secular humanist” teaching of something that is not even close to biblical or the Word of God, imbuing starving souls with an injection of false teachings. Then, there are those who are “worshippers” of money – only imparting what their congregations want to hear to maintain the steady flow of money. And, many pastors are busy engaging their congregation to “build” an earthly kingdom by erecting building after building on “church” property. There are also pastors engaged in various combinations of these.
A church is not a physical building but a group of individuals who come together in Christ to worship and sing praise. The physical building is a “place of worship” for followers of Christ to gather. It is a place to receive the whole of God’s word, to be instructed in His commandments and laws, and enrich the soul with His spirit.
Just as the physical body needs wholesome, nutritious foods for survival and life, the soul needs the spiritual sustenance of God’s immutable Word to sustain itself away from evil, wrong-doing, and build an everlasting eternal life through Jesus Christ. Without spiritual sustenance, the soul is left void, becoming easily led away from light into darkness. It is possible to return the soul to light from the dark; but, it takes men in Christ willing to reach out into the darkness to lead those lost souls back to the Light of Christ.
One could question whether many pastors today have a firm foundation themselves. It would explain the lack of spiritual feeding being imparted to many congregations, the willingness to bend to the will of man, and imparting a half-truth of God’s word. How can those who have shaky foundations themselves instill a strong foundation in others?
I’ve heard it said that Christians are hunkered down in order to ride out the tide sweeping over this nation in order to survive. If this research is correct, that plan is not working out so well. It is a plan that Christ himself rejected, as He commanded His disciples to go forth and spread His Word. Just as we are followers of Christ, we are also Soldiers in Christ. It is a plan, however, in lock step with the “government approved” teaching of God’s word.
To those pastors, religious leaders and elders who are strong in God’s word, continue to impart His Truth, spiritually feed your Christian brothers and sisters, help fill their souls with God’s righteousness, and develop and nurture that strong foundation upon which a House of God is built. It is sorely needed in these trying times that will get worse before they get better.
To those pastors, religious leaders, and elders who have strayed from imparting God’s Word, His Wisdom and Truth, you have done a great disservice to those relying upon you to help them build a strong foundation. You have left many souls spiritually hungry and void, causing confusion among some followers of Christ. It is this void that is being filled with something other than Our Lord, His Word and His Truth. May God have mercy on your souls for abandoning Him and helping corrupt His children.