This news is not exactly news anymore. The numbers have stayed pretty consistent over the years.
When students graduate from high school, most of them also graduate from the church.
That doesn’t necessarily mean they graduated from faith, but attending church became irrelevant to them. I like Jesus, but I don’t see the point of the church. A person can say that all he wants, but I have yet to meet a strong, growing Christian who was not also connected to other believers in a local church.
I’ll go a step further. They can say all they want about liking Jesus, but the longer they go without a spiritual community—a church—the further they’ll move from even liking Jesus. In other words, faith in Jesus will gradually become irrelevant.
Jared Bilski recently wrote a feature for the Washington Post: I’m not passing my parents’ religion on to my kids, but I am teaching their values. Jared was raised as an active, practicing Roman Catholic, but he has left both the church and the faith. He wrote:
“There were too many unanswered questions, too many problematic absolutes, too much fearmongering and way too much hypocrisy. For a religion that placed such a premium on loving thy neighbor, it sure had a lot of restrictions on whom you were allowed to love. When the priest sex-abuse scandal broke — a scandal the scope of which we’re still learning about — I knew I’d never return.” —Jared Bilski
Frankly, I agree.
- The Christian faith has a lot of unanswered questions.
- In some corners, fearmongering is evident.
- Hypocrisy resides in every church.
- Too many preach “Love your neighbor” but love some neighbors less than others.
I agree with these statements, but they haven’t led me to abandon my faith in Christ or my involvement with His body, the church.
- The hypocrites in the church do not define my faith; Jesus does. And—news flash!—I am one of those hypocrites (and so are you).
- Those who rattle the sabers of fear do not define my faith, Jesus does.
- Those who fail to love all people regardless of their sin do not define my faith; Jesus does.
It’s Bilski’s first criticism of Christianity that has my attention: “There were too many unanswered questions, too many problematic absolutes.” I have been a student of the Bible for most of my life, and I’ve been a diligent, serious student of the Bible for close to forty years. I still have unanswered questions. Yet I refuse to reject Christianity because of what I don’t know; I embrace it because of what I do know.
I don’t want a God that I can fully understand and explain. If I can wrap my finite brain around God, He’s not much of a God.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).
To accept what I don’t fully understand is not blind faith. I believe and act on what God has revealed. Because God is true and faithful in the things I do understand, I trust Him with the things I don’t.
Unfortunately, too many people, like Bilski, want a God they can fully understand. They want truth and doctrine neatly wrapped up, a theology they can easily chart and map out. Sadly, those people miss out on the wondrous mystery of God, the all-wise sovereign Creator who has revealed Himself in a way our finite minds can fathom—and yet has left enough unanswered to lead us to trust His unseen hand and ways of working.
When the great apostle Paul wrestled with the tension between God’s sovereign will and our own, He threw his hands up—not in exasperation, but in praise to the One who is so far beyond us.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid?
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:33-36).
I don’t have to know all the answers. I trust the God who does.
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