Over the last few years, there have been various reports of many Americans and even those worldwide who have left the faith. A recent report from CNN.com gives actual statistics of those who are “Millennials” who are no longer participating in church activities, nor associating with Christianity. According to the article which was published today, the percentage of those identifying with Christianity has and continues to drop significantly:
“Released Tuesday, the survey of 35,000 American adults shows the Christian percentage of the population dropping precipitously, to 70.6%. In 2007, the last time Pew conducted a similar survey, 78.4% of American adults called themselves Christian.”
“People who profess no faith affiliation — often called “nones,” as in “none of the above” — now form nearly 23% percent of the country’s adult population, according to the Pew study. That puts the unaffiliated nearly on par with evangelicals (25.4%) and ahead of Catholics (about 21%) and mainline Protestants (14.7%).”
What is even more alarming is that there is a growing trend of those both claiming Christianity, and even those who are not affiliated, that have shown support for “same-sex marriage”. Recent polls conducted nationwide have shown that many churches are now accepting same-sex weddings, leaving those who do not support it in the minority. It is quite easy for those who are truly following God in obedience to become discouraged. Truthfully, in these times it seems that the majority are now living in sin and promoting a Godless society for current and future generations. While those who are following Christ, seem to be outnumbered. However, the Bible gives each Christian clear instructions on how to live, but also encouragement during difficult times.
In 1 Corinthians 16:13, the Apostle Paul gives a word of encouragement to his fellow brothers in Christ. He says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” Paul’s message to us is also to stand firm in the faith and to be courageous. At the time of Paul’s life, he and other Christians faced perilous situations. Some were crucified, beheaded, beaten, and utterly expelled from the societies they once lived in. Persecution against Christians has and continues to occur even in our present time. However, the Apostle Paul gives Christians encouragement to stand firm in the faith. What does that mean?
To stand firm is to hold a stance that is unwavering. It is to be fixed in a position that requires a concerted effort to displace or move one from where they stand. Even in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 Paul writes to fellow Christians, when he says, “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” The Apostle Paul was an individual who not only challenged Christians and non-Christians about sinful behavior, but he was known for encouraging those in Christ.
What we as Christians need to understand is that despite the perilous times and the many who have chosen to reject God, we must stand firm in the faith. To stand firm in the faith, means that we are to hold fast or steady as it concerns the things of God. In the scripture of 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Paul is giving Christians admonishment not to forget or forsake the things taught to them. What we are seeing in today’s world, is a rapid abandonment of Godly values.
Those who were perhaps raised in the church, have chosen not to embrace God for themselves. Instead, many who are in this current generation (Millennials) have essentially dismissed the idea of Christianity or God. As a result, there has and continues to be a decline in both morality and Godly values. However, God is still desirous of a generation that will stand up for Him and His words.
Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world, which means that the invitation to receive salvation stands to this day. While it is quite clear that many have chosen to walk away from God and abandon the precepts that God has put into place, there are still those who God has chosen to be set apart. The main encouragement we should bear in mind is that we are fighting in a spiritual battle.
In Ephesians 6: 10-18, the Apostle Paul gives an illustration of what fighting in this spiritual battle consists of. Paul uses the imagery of a Roman solider because, during his time, it was the norm to see soldiers that wore the battle gear as Paul describes. In that scripture, the Apostle Paul mentions “The Full Armor of God“. What is the Full Armor of God? It can be summed up in 6 parts:
1. The belt of truth
2. The breastplate of righteousness
3. The shoes fitted with the gospel of peace
4. The shield of faith
5. The helmet of Salvation
6. The sword of the Spirit (word of God)
While these are metaphorical in their context, each part is used to describe the spiritual application. The point that Paul is making concerning the Full Armor of God is that we must stand firm in what we believe, and we must do battle in the Spirit. This means, that we must fight the good fight of faith, in a spiritual sense. We who are in Christ are called to be separate from the world, and to hold our ground. Although society continues to evolve, Christians should not change or compromise the truth of God for satan’s lies.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, that Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but His words will not pass away. The things of this Earth, and the changing patterns of our world are all temporal, but God’s Word will always be true. Even if various laws are passed to encourage sinful behavior, and many turn away, only the truth of God will remain. Those who indulge and promote sinfulness will at some point pay a heavy price. However, Jesus Christ died so that we wouldn’t have to pay that price.
Those who are in Christ must take a stand just as those who came before us did. Jesus Christ bled on the cross for you and I, which means that if we participate in what the world deems to be good, then the cross of Christ becomes meaningless. Even those who are without Christ, you don’t have to perish because of your sin. You can be redeemed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
All of humanity has an opportunity to receive salvation and redemption – but it is a conscious decision to forsake the things of the world to embrace Christ. The world is continuing to decay, and perilous times will increase as we live in the last days. The many tragedies that we see daily, will continue to grow worse because of the rampant sinfulness that has stretched worldwide. However, for those of us who are in Christ, we must stand until the very end. The reward for standing firm, is eternal life, God being pleased with you, and the message of Jesus Christ being spread through you in what you say and how you live.