Careless ChristianityCareless Christianity
Generally speaking, people place the most value on things that cost them something and the more it costs, the more value is placed upon it. It may have cost them a lot of money or it quite possibly finds its value to a person because they had to do a lot of work for it. There is little value placed upon an object or a belief if it is taken for granted because it did not cost one very much at all.
This great country of ours was founded as a Christian nation. There are those who will argue that point but I challenge them to hold another position after they have actually read the documents which were produced by those who were part of founding our country. The evidence is overwhelming that the people who came here did so with freedom of worship on their minds and Christianity was the main guide which gave them the foundation for how to design our government. Our very first document, The Mayflower Compact clearly stated that they had undertaken the task of forming the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia. It states: "Having undertaken for the Glory of God and the advancement of the Christian Faith...." So, then, it is clear that these were Christian people (Puritans) who came here with a purpose and that purpose included the "Advancement of the Christian Faith."
It is very hard to be a Christian in many parts of the world. More Christians are being killed for their faith now than ever. The news media doesn't consider it newsworthy when Christians are killed for their faith or else they would tell the public about it. But, it is happening a lot. A person in China, Russia, Africa and many other places has to be totally committed to the Lord Jesus because it just might cause them to lose their lives if they admit that they are a Christian. It costs them dearly just as it cost the Pilgrims.
It is a truth that if something cost you nothing, or there is no danger is doing it, it will become just a peripheral issue in their lives. Christians in China are highly persecuted. They have an "underground" church which is bigger than the church in America. In certain parts of Europe people will stand in the cold for hours just to hear a preacher tell them the gospel. There is standing room only when a preacher comes to tell them the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. They don't have nice churches like we do. They worship where they can and they are always under threat of arrest and imprisonment if not death. Worship is not a peripheral issue to them. It is central to their existence. It costs them something to be a Christian and they have strong churches which are fulfilling the command to win the lost much faster than our churches in America. In our country, only about 37% of our church membership attends on a regular basis. A church of three-thousand members will only see about 1200-1500 regularly. The Southern Baptist Convention boasts sixteen million members but if we could find seven or eight million on a Sunday we would be doing well. In reality the number in church on Sunday is more like five million. If Sunday morning sees one-thousand in church it will find about 200-250 at the evening service if, indeed, they even have worship on Sunday night. The same percentages are true for smaller churches as well. If 100 come on Sunday morning then about 35 will show up that evening. So, what's the problem. We have too many who are Careless and marginal Christians. If one's faith isn't strong enough to get them to worship then, do they think it is strong enough to get them to Heaven? They need to think strongly about that.
The Sunday evening worship service situation tells us a lot about how much of a priority worship is to the American people. Sunday evening was, at one time, one of the most vibrant worship services the church held. But today, one is hard pressed to find a church holding Sunday evening services. That should tell us that the level of commitment to and desire for worship is not what it used to be at all. The prevailing idea is that people can get all the fellowship with the Lord in worship that they need on Sunday morning in about two hours if, indeed, they attend Sunday School as well. Worship to these people is an "option". They think It's a good option but no more than that; an option. If someone told these same people that they could not attend worship on Sunday evening, one would find that these same people would fight for the privilege of having an evening worship hour.
Here's our basic problem. Christianity in America has been too easy. No one bothers us because, from the beginning we were Christian. It has been the accepted religion from the very first days of our existence. We have had no government looking over our shoulders or threatening us because our Constitution guarantees us the freedom of worship. We have been free to worship with no fear of retaliation or consequences. Our freedom without price has led the church to become careless and unappreciative of what we have. And, it has come at the price of losing the power that the Lord gives his people when they are faithful and committed. People attend church when they "feel like it" and if nothing else stands in the way. Worshipping God is way down the list of life because there is no value placed on it. It is not seen as a necessity but as an option. Their relationship to God is strong only when they need Him in an emergency. Their Christianity is weak and vapid. It is not a driving force in their lives and therefore they place little real value on it. Whatever is optional does not require discipline or commitment.
As Revelation says: We have "lost our first love" and consequently the church of today looks under every rock available to find relevance and power. It can't be found in creating a "hollywood" environment. That will attract a big crowd but the focus is not right. It is focused on what man views as success. The church has left Evangelism and adopted Entertainment to fill the gap. It won't work. You can't use the world's methods to do God's Business. You might look good to the world but we are not suppose to be doing that. People can turn away from whatever is making them feel good and that's why church attendance is down sharply today. Commitment to the worship of Almighty God and to His Will is the lifeblood of the church. Today's church is weak because they have shifted their emphasis from Worshipping God to entertaining themselves so they will feel good and it is killing the Christian church and robbing us of our ability to influence society for the Lord.
Six of the churches in Revelation (Rev. 2-3) were condemned for failing to focus on that which was the Lord's Will. Only one, the Church at Philadelphia, was praised because it was on the right track and had not left its "First Love". It was in revival. And, that's what would happen to the church today if we would quit letting the world set the agenda and return to what pleases the Lord. But, I'm afraid that the church in America has learned that a lower level of commitment will satisfy our people and that's about all they care about. Yes, our Christian people in America have come to the conclusion that God is accepting of a Careless Christianity. Don't believe it. His standards have never changed and never will. We need to return to the days of a proper focus, let the world go its way and be sure that we are not part of a Careless Christianity.
William F. Harrell