Get Real

Get Real

Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”
Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”
“If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see. (John 9:39-41)

Read: Psalm 119

Relate: There are some who would say that the church in the western world is in decline. They would say that more and more people are leaving the church disillusioned and discontented. The world has finally moved beyond the need for the crutch that is religion and as society grows and evolves, we are shedding our former faith like a coat that no longer fits. Those who would say this point to surveys like the American Religious survey in 2008 that showed that those who identify themselves as Christian has dropped ten percent in two decades while those who claim no religious affiliation has nearly doubled during the same time. They would also mention the PEW survey taken a few years later that shows an even greater rate of increase among those with no religious identification over the past five years. Christianity is in decline.

I say that is a good thing.

Yes, you read that right. The decrease in numbers among those who claim to be Christian is a good thing. It makes for a healthier church better equipped to do its mission.

Go ahead. Rub your eyes. Read those last few sentences one more time. You’re not imagining things. Now let me explain.

At the end of John chapter nine, Jesus makes a claim that it is better to be truly blind than to claim to see while being spiritually blind in truth. In America and the Western world today there are three types of “Christians”. There’s the C&E Christians, the bench warmers, and the real deal. It is in those first two categories that the church is in decline and I’m glad for it because both those groups are, like the Pharisees, deceiving themselves.

The C&E Christians are those who have little to no true religious affiliation. They might show up a couple times a year (Christmas and Easter) to the church around the corner or the one their cousin/sibling/grandparent attends. When they get married it will happen in that church and that pastor/priest might speak at their funeral but that is about as close as they come to having anything to do with Jesus. Culturally they are Christian and their values reflect a Judeo-Christian worldview, but in reality they are spiritually as blind as bats even though they claim to see. Fortunately their numbers, while still a significant chunk of Europe and America, are in decline.

The bench warmers are just as blind but actually in an even worse position. These are the people who will show up once, twice, maybe even four Sundays a month and sit in a pew. They will sing the songs. They will give a few bucks. They will listen to the preacher’s sermon, but they aren’t truly hearing it. When the service is over, they will go on their way fully convinced that they are Christian even as they continue to live a lifestyle that proves the lie. Even more than the C&E Christian, these folks are completely convinced, as they walk around in darkness, that they can see completely fine.

The final group is not in decline at all. This group is the real deal. They are the ones who live out what they believe. They have heard the truth and it has impacted their lives. Their blind eyes have been opened and the vision they now have impacts how they walk and talk. They are the true Church and the stats show that this group is actually on the rise.

React: So where do we sit? If we, were completely honest with ourselves, what group best describes us? If you fall into one of the first two groups I have one request. Either get out or get real. Stop claiming to be something you are not. Either quit claiming to be a follower of Christ (a Christian) or actually start following Him.

Respond: 

God, I ask that the self deception would end. I am grateful that more and more the group who claim Christianity without the lifestyle to back that claim is in decline. I ask that those who are only nominally Christian would recognize their blindness and chose to get real with their faith. Help us to find new and better ways to not simply create a culture of Christianity but rather an ever growing church of believers surrendered to You. God, I give my everything to You. Have it all. 

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11 thoughts on “Get Real

  1. Thank you. I have been in groups two and three in my self-estimation. I am thinking/hoping that God is opening my eyes a bit now so that I can talk less and do more: be in group three. By talking less, I don’t mean preach less, but walk well and be less of a “Martha” and less of a Pharisee. That is my hope.

  2. Hang on.

    You’re saying that those that ‘follow’ aren’t really following because they don’t really believe? I’m not sure if I read this properly, but isn’t there meant to be a chance for everyone? I must ask if you class yourself as a true believer or do you set yourself somewhere else? I’m just curious as to your views on this.

    • I was in group 2.. Then I got out, for three years. I thought I found my identity, but I was wrong. Then finally I started to see. It was blur in the beginning, but I was sure about what was it. It was like falling in love for the first time. I did seek earnestly and then found my true identity in group 3. So I personally am with BJ that it is inevitable to get out, in order to be fair and have the ‘chance’ that you indicated ‘everyone’should have. 🙂 This is how I related with the post.

      Pax!

      • No I get that, see I’m not a follower myself, I’m more of an observer. But I really am intrigued by people’s views on everything to do with it.

        I believe there’s something… else, that we can’t comprehend, but in that sense ain’t we comprehending it anyway? Haha.

        I just love seeing views and opinions on things

    • I think some of issue is a matter of differences in understanding of the word “believe”. Those in the West refer to the word as granting intellectual assent. The New Testament word, “πιστεύω” goes much deeper than that. While it is still translated believe, it actually refers to a worldview or system of thought that someone would order their entire world around.
      I gave mention to three groups. The first, the “C&E” group are those who might culturally call themselves Christians but do not “believe” in either sense. They would say something like, “I don’t buy into all that nonsense but its good for the kids.”
      The second group, which I called the bench warmers, are those who might believe in that they give intellectual assent to the creeds of Christianity but it is not their life. It is one compartment they open for an hour or two here and there but it does not influence who they are for the remaining 160 or so hours of their life.
      The third group are those for which Christianity is not a part of who they are, it *is* who they are. They don’t just believe. They πιστεύω.
      There might be some from this group who “fall away” and that I certainly would not consider good. However, statistics show that on the whole the first two groups are in decline but this third group is on the rise. That means that those in the first two groups are shedding the illusion of being Christian. While many are abandoning the whole enterprise, others are beginning to take their walk seriously. This is most definitely a good thing.

      • I absolutely agree with you, cultural Christianity is a huge problem in America.

        My family and I were at a Christian concert several weeks ago with 15,000 other believers when she said, “I wonder how different this town would be if every single one of these people actually walked the walk?”

        What she said really made me think and still does.

        Despite what they may think, there are plenty of people who believe they are devout but are simply playing a game and the church is better off without them.

        Good post, as always.

        James

      • So, in a sense.
        Christianity is shedding it’s skin to reveal a more devoted version? Dropping off people who… I dont want to say “believe” enough but… in a sense don’t believe enough?

        Not making out that this is a more pure version or more dedicated etc etc… but that it’s losing those that have… less will to stay the course?

        • In a sense.
          I would say it is more that Western culture is shedding its cloak of cultural Christianity but if I am understanding you right, I think it is pretty much the same thing but from different perspectives

  3. I believe it’s a question of the wheat and the tares. Surely it’s God’s job to root out the tares or else we might be pulling out the wheat with them. Aren’t we meant to love people into the kingdom with the love of God?

  4. Growing up with nominal Christians sullied my ideas about faith for many years. If walking with Christ meant professing to be ‘good’ or attending church services with no real heart or behavior change I wanted nothing to do with it. Thank God (literally) that He called me out of this spiritual abuse (and some of it was). Over time I began to have a true heart conversion. I realized that God was there all along when professing Christians failed me. While I had a lot to sort through, I learned that what BJ wrote is correct. Anyone can fake the ‘fruit of the spirit’ for an hour or two a week. Others are in active rebellion while denying so and some ‘Christians ‘ are just plain spiritually blind. I really don’t think we can ‘love’ people into the Kingdom of God. I do think we are called to be loving to witness, but the walk and commitment is ultimately up to them with the help of the Holy Spirit.

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