I was reading the book of John recently and was surprised how relevant it is to something in the news today. In John 6 after feeding the five thousand, Jesus discusses with the people how they may simply be following him for another free meal. He encourages the people to seek him as the true bread of life, an everlasting sustenance that leads to eternal life. And like today, when, Jesus’ message became too hard to swallow, people left in droves. Jesus explains to his disciples in John 6:63 that, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit, and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”
Today, we have Christians bemoaning the results of an extensive study of religious belief by Pew researchers that Christianity is on the decline. Atheists are screaming from the rooftops of their victory over ignorant believers. I would propose that the study actually shows some good data. One, claiming to be a Christian in a study is not the same as actually living like one. And two, when following Christ gets tough, we will see people leave the faith. In today’s society it is becoming more difficult to claim Christianity. Just like in Jesus’ day, when the message was tough, people left. But I welcome the opportunity to profess my faith in Christ in tough times. While I do want to practice my beliefs in peace, Jesus never promised me that following him would be easy. In fact, he preached the exact opposite…that I would have to carry my cross daily to follow him (Luke 9:23).
(Another great article on what the Pew research results mean for Christianity can be found here.)