According to Pew Research, the fastest growing segment of religion in America are those who report having no religious affiliation. Referred to as the “nones” this group includes your standard run of the mill atheists and agnostics but more surprisingly represents a growing number of young adults who simply do not want to identify with any one religious group. In his book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, James Emery White reports that 1 in 5 Americans claim no religious affiliation. In 1940 this number was only 5% and by 1990 had grown to only 8%. But over the past two decades the percentage of religiously unaffiliated has shown massive growth. In fact, the “nones” are now the third largest religious group in America. What is less surprising is that the majority of the “nones” are young — 1/3 of those under 30 reported being in this category. What’s most alarming is that many of the “nones” are bucking the traditional convention of returning to church as they get older. So that begs the question, why are so many young people losing their religion.
According to Kenda Creasy Dean, author of “Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church” the problem may lie with parents. She writes, “the religiosity of American teenagers must be read primarily as a reflection of their parents religious devotion (or lack thereof) and, by extension, that of their congregations.” (p.3) As evidence for this conclusion, she points to interviews with young people who call themselves Christians but are unable to articulate even the most basic distinctives of the Christian faith. Rather than passing down a Biblical faith to their children, American Christian have largely passed down the acceptable civil religion referred to a Moral Therapeutic Deism. Dean point out that it is not that young people don’t see value in religion but that they haven’t been given a religion worth holding onto.
If the American church is ever going to experience revival we must take a long, hard look at what we are passing down to the next generation. Dean notes that the group that demonstrated the highest level of religious understanding and vitality in the survey were those who came from Mormon families. This should be an alarm bell for every Bible-believing Christian. We must take a hard look at what we are passing down to our children. Is it the robust, historic faith of the Bible or a watered-down version of the truth.
We need to give our children a faith that is worth living and passing down to the next generation.
The Secret to the Christian Life“As you therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7
The secret to the Christian life is that there is no secret. The Colossians, like many people today, thought that if they could just find the one missing piece to their spirituality everything would fall into place. The Colossians tried legalism, mysticism, and human philosophy all in an attempt to find the secret to being complete in Christ. They bounced from one idea to another always looking, always hungry, always thirsty, but never finding the sustenance that was right their before their eyes. Does that sound familiar? It should because we fall prey to these same traps all of the time. We believe that something is missing in our spiritual lives and that all we need is to find that one missing piece that will finally make it all right.
Real spiritual growth, however, can only take place when we realize that the secret to the Christian life is that there is no secret. Paul admonishes us in these verse to walk in Christ in the same way that received Him in the first place. In other words, the Christian life is simply a matter of continually turning from our sinful, selfish way of living and trusting in Jesus. Now right away I can hear people saying, “wait a minute preacher, that’s too simple.” My response is, “do you really want it to be any harder?” This principle may be real simple, but it’s real true. Until we learn that everything we need is in Jesus and has already been provided in salvation, we will never be able to grow. Listen to what Paul says just two verses later, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily’ and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Col 2:9-10)
What these verse teach us is that real spiritual growth does not come by trying to find what is missing but rather in becoming grounded and rooted in what has already been provided. The cross of Jesus is an inexhaustible storehouse of spiritual blessing. The more we come to understand, appreciate, and glory in the work of Christ upon the cross the deeper, richer and fuller our Christian experience becomes. Troubles can assail us from every side but they cannot move the Christian who revels in the love of Christ displayed on the cross. Satan can hurl fiery darts of temptation at us, accuse of us of every type of sin, condemn us, and remind us of every past failure but he can never defeat the Christian who basks in the knowledge that all of his sin was placed upon Jesus and completely paid for at the cross. Other people can mistreat us, misunderstand us, and even misrepresent us, but the grace of Jesus displayed on the cross still covers our life.
Brothers and Sisters the key to the Christian life is that there is no key, there is just Jesus and He is all we need.