In today’s culture, belief in God is not enough.
In a recent Gallup poll, 89% of Americans claimed to believe in God.
Yet less than 20% of Americans will attend church more than a few times a year. Of that group that does attend church more than a few times a year, only 10-25% give any type of tithe or monetary offering to the church. When they do give, Christians are only giving at 2.5 percent per capita, while during the Great Depression they gave at a 3.3 percent rate.
But this isn’t an article about money. It’s about faith. REAL faith. SPECIFIC faith. Our giving habits simply show that our faith isn’t always real, substantive, or specific. In other words, our faith is lacking because far too often the object of our faith is faith.
In today’s culture, belief in God is not enough because everyone “believes” in God. Around my church, we’ve encouraged people to stop identifying themselves as a “Christian” and instead say they are a “Christ-follower.”
Notice the difference?
In today’s culture, a Christian is merely a label, and at times, a fairly socially acceptable one. Even in today’s culture, in certain parts of the country, it can be socially and economically advantageous to identify as a Christian.
A “Christian” views faith as an accessory to their life. A Christ-follower knows that faith IS their life.
A “Christian” has faith in general (faith in faith). A Christ-followers has specific faith in Jesus Christ.
A “Christian” may think of their path as one of many to God. A Christ-follower trusts Jesus when Jesus claims to be the only way to know God (John 14:6).
A “Christian” compartmentalizes their faith, never allowing it to infiltrate too many other areas of life. A Christ-follower views their life as one compartment (Jesus) and only allows other areas of life to matter as they fit first into the Jesus box.
A vague belief-ism has infiltrated the “Christian” culture that needs to be addressed and expunged. Vague belief-ism is not a solid rock to lean on in seasons of suffering. Vague belief-ism can’t remind you that God does not owe you a long life, a happy marriage, or the ability to create children. Vague belief-ism has no ability to give concrete hope in the middle of a diagnosis that’s impossible to process.
In a devotional book on Jesus’ conversation with his disciples in John 14-17, Timothy Keller writes,
“In John 14, Jesus calls his followers to ‘Believe in God. Believe also in me.’ But not just any belief. Specific belief. Belief, or faith, in God. More than that, they are to have faith in Jesus. Belief in God isn’t enough. Vague monotheism isn’t going to help them. Jesus is.”
I have a friend that I visit with every few weeks and he does not love Jesus. Let’s call him Cody. Cody tolerates me talking about church (especially since it’s my job) and even God or faith in general. However, every time I steer the conversation toward Jesus as the particular object of my faith, stuff gets weird. Cody shuts down – starts looking around talking to other friends and begins to ignore me.
In today’s culture, mere belief in God is not enough, as if it ever was in any culture. What the world needs to see today are real, genuine Christ-followers who have sincere faith that changes they way we live, talk, think, spend time/money, etc. The world needs real Christ-followers who talk about Jesus specifically, not just vague monotheism in general.