I don’t know what you think about statistics. (The exit polls from the last election show you can’t trust them.) But still, if you look at statistics of what Americans say they believe, there’s a whole lot to be excited about.
Newsweek December 5th, 2004 Princeton Survey Research Results, margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points…
*79 percent of Americans say they believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary without a human father as the Bible says.
*67 percent say they believe the entire Christmas story is historically accurate.
*93 percent say they believe Jesus actually lived.
*82 percent say they believe Jesus is the Son of God.
* 55 percent say they believe every word of the Bible is literally true.
*52 percent say they believe Jesus will return to earth someday.
That’s good stuff.
But if you look at statistics as to how those individuals live, well, it leaves a whole lot to be desired. It becomes very obvious that while many people say they think much of Jesus they don’t think much of what Jesus says.
Take spending habits for example.
*What does Jesus say about money?
I’m not going to give you a big long sermon, so here’s the short version: give it away.
Obviously there’s a little more to it than that, but at the least we can all agree that what Jesus had to say about money is very different than what our world has to say about it. Yet in spite of that, research indicates the spending habits of most professing Christians is virtually indistinguishable from those of other Americans. On average, professing Christians give less than three percent of their money away. Only six percent of born-again Christians tithe their income to the church. Fact is, Christians spend seven times more on entertainment than they do on spiritual activities.
*What does Jesus say about purity?
“If you right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away…” (Mt.5:29)
Yet, get this, research indicates, quote “Most Christian households watch the same movies and the same television shows in the same percentages as non-Christian households…” In fact, I read recently “born again Christians spend seven times more hours each week in front of their televisions than they spend in Bible reading, prayer and worship.”
Hold on, it gets worse.
In August 2000, Christianity Today conducted an exclusive survey of its readership, both lay and clergy regarding Internet pornography. The good news was that 67 percent of clergy and 64 percent of laity had never visited a sexually explicit web-site. The bad news was that 33 percent of the clergy and 36 percent of the laity had.
Incredibly sad. One Christian college president recently said, that the most perplexing puzzle he and his staff face regarding their student body was that student leaders were outspoken in their Christian commitment and yet living with a boyfriend and girlfriend and not seeing the disconnect. (Kent Hughes, Set Apart)
*What does Jesus say about the importance of deep, committed, relationships with other believers?
“This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you…” (John 15:12)
Yet, many Christians don’t have any deep, committed relationships with any other Christian besides their wife, and what’s worse many don’t even see the need for church. Pollster George Barna notes, “the average adult thinks belonging to a church is good for other people, but represents unnecessary bondage and baggage for himself…Today there are droves of professing Christians who have never been committed to the local expression of Christ’s body, and never intend to be…”
I’m not trying to be depressing.
I’m trying to show the disconnect.
In many people’s minds there’s a fundamental disconnect between their relationship with Jesus and their attitude towards what He says. They feel like they can have a good relationship with Jesus without submitting to the authority of His Word.
The problem is, Jesus says you can’t.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I tell you?”
Acknowledging Jesus’ Lordship with your lips is a waste of breath if at the same time you refuse to acknowledge His Lordship with your life. The way you acknowledge Jesus’ Lordship in your life is through your submission to the authority of His Word over your life. How we respond to what Jesus says reveals who we believe Jesus is.
What does the way you are living reveal about who you believe Jesus is?
When you look at the way you talk, the way you relate to others, the way you work, the way you spend your money, does it reveal that you believe Jesus is Lord or instead that although you say Jesus is Lord, in your heart of hearts, you really think you are?