The Pathetic Gospel and Election

Nov 17

The Pathetic Gospel and Election

No, this isn’t a post on Calvinism or predestination. Instead, I’m referring to the recent election we had in the U.S.

I was surprised by the level of surprise voiced by evangelical Christians after the results of the election came in. Whether on the news, or friends via Facebook, or the comments I heard audibly–Christians were upset, shocked, and perplexed.

This perplexed me.

And it shocked me. And it made me upset.

Why? For a couple of reasons.

First, it seems to me that Christians are living under a rock. We don’t seem to have a realistic pulse on the attitudes and opinions of our culture. In addition, we think that our opinions should hold more weight than the opinions of others–and that we can somehow force our convictions on the rest of society. Reality check: now that Obama is elected, gay marriage is legal in a few states, etc…the country is NOT now going to hell. Reality is, our country was going to hell well before this election. And it has little to do with who is in power or what legislation is passed. Regardless, these election results shouldn’t be surprising, unless you have your head in the sand.

Second, it seems to me that Christians should NOT place their hope in politics, but in the Gospel. Politicians and laws have very little power. The Gospel, however, is the very power of God unto salvation. Even if you so convinced that our government is becoming more and more anti-Christ…well, that’s when the Gospel thrives! Those Christians who are afraid that our country is now on a downward spiral–wake up! This is true for the whole world and has always been true since the beginning of human history.

The problem doesn’t rest with politicians or policies or government, the problem lies with Christians. If our country is going to hell, it’s because we aren’t making disciples.

Let’s look at a few facts. What do you think is the percentage of American Christians who have made even one disciple for Christ? (I’m stealing the definition for “disciple” from a recent simulcast I attended. Disciple = someone who makes disciples for Christ.) So, using that definition of a disciple, how many Christians have made just one disciple in their entire lifetime (not including their own children–unless their children are actually making disciples)?

I’d say it’s largely impossible for the average Christian to make such a disciple. Why? Because the average Christian just isn’t that committed to Christ. Let’s look at two simplistic stats.

On average, each church in the U.S. has only about 33% of their membership roll attending on any given Sunday. Church attendance has got to be the easiest “duty” of a Christian. It’s not hard to show up and attend something. And it’s just once a week. We all attend work, and that’s 5 days a week, and you have to actually work. Church is one day a week, and you do no work. It’s a day of rest. Two-thirds of us Christians can’t even fulfill this “obligation.”

Next up is giving. What percentage of Christians do you think tithe to their church, or give more than 10%? Answer: 5%. Yikes. (Among evangelical Christians, the number is only 25%.) To me, giving is the second easiest “obligation” of a Christian. Even the poorest among us in America is the richest in the world. Writing a check is so much easier than making a disciple.

Embarrassingly, my church fits in with the stats. 50% of us attend church on any given Sunday, and 33% of us give faithfully. I am praying that God changes me and my church. We could continue on with statistics, but I’ll stop now. The point is, our country is going to hell because we American Christians are pathetic. It’s not because we have a pathetic government. The problem lies with us. If we want to see our country change directions, the answer is we Christians need to change directions.

We need to repent. We need to return to God’s calling on our life. We need to live as disciples of Christ, and thereby start making disciples of Christ. But making a disciple is nowhere in the picture for most of us Christians. We are embarrassingly far off the mark. Where do we start? We better figure that one out quick.

I do believe that our society will soon become hostile toward Christianity. Not in the ways Christians now claim they face hostility. I think at some point, people who truly live out the Christian faith will be in the same category as those who are members of the KKK. Christians will be marginalized, ostracized, rebuked, dismissed, and rejected for their convictions.

If only a third of us are attending church in our current environment, what percentage will continue to associate with Christ in that future environment? If only 5% of us are giving faithfully in our current environment, what percentage will give in that future environment?

I believe a higher percentage for both. Many will distance themselves from Christ and His church, and those who are left will have true faith.

So I’m not surprised, perplexed, or upset about the recent election. I do have all those feelings, but they are directed toward us Christians, not our government. It’s directed at me. How is it possible for me to live my entire life as a Christian and not make one disciple for Christ? That cannot be the story of my life. I must turn my life over to Jesus and let Him have control. I must follow after Him and obey Him. Jesus offers no other option.

One comment

  1. If I’m being honest, I don’t know what the connection to Obama and other Democrats winning an election is to the depth of spiritual commitment for Evangelical Christians. I don’t think this election said much that previous elections did not from a spiritual level.

    I did pick up on more generalized hostility that people had in this election compared to previous elections. Maybe I didn’t notice it more in the past due to my own sin of participating more in the hostility without being aware of it before.

    Regarding Sunday School attendance, I would be interested in two pieces of information. 1.) What has been the historical ratio of Sunday School attendance to Sunday morning service attendees (because it doesn’t seem different now from when I was a kid)? 2.) Do the stats take into account the churches that do not offer Sunday School?

    To me, the most important part of church is when you have the opportunity to study the Word, and that happens more in Sunday School than most other church contexts. However, there has always been a large percentage of people who felt differently and avoided Sunday School as a result.

    Regarding giving, the stats I have heard were actually worse than you cited, but I again wonder what it has been historically.

    I agree with you that we are going to see a wave of hostility toward Christians in the upcoming decades. I’d chalk some of that up to distaste over political activism in the church and some of it to people simply hating Christians as they hated Christ.

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