2 Ways to Make a Difference
Much is made today of the decline of the church. Secular news outlets and denominational agencies are both reporting staggering numbers. By-and-large, church attendance and involvement seems to be on the way out. America is becoming a nation of wandering spiritualists who are unengaged with what is often referred to as “organized religion.” While most say they believe in God, a relatively small margin of people choose to associate themselves with any type of religious group. How can Christians make a difference in this type of culture? Is there a way to reverse contemporary trends? Let me propose two actions each of us can take to make a difference in our increasingly anti-Christian world.
Be what God wants you to be.
When I was in college, an older Christian gentleman gave me advice for finding a wife. He said, “Be the right one, and you’ll find the right one.” His admonishment meant that I should focus on developing my Christian character, not just on trying to get a girl. He asserted that such a perspective would help me to eventually find God’s choice spouse for me. In order to make an impression on irreligious people, Christians need to have a similar mindset. Our first priority should be our own Christian character. The Lord has ordained to use our transformed lives as a powerful testimony to His truth (see Matthew 5:16 and John 17:21). Much of the anti-Christian sentiment in our culture is justified. For too long, the world has observed a church which seems to have a “Do as I say, don’t do as I do” mantra. This has led to disillusionment and disenfranchisement with Christianity.
To make a difference in the world, God’s people have got to gain a spiritual perspective. This reality has seemingly been lost on the modern church. Consider the efforts of most churches. The majority of fellowships spend countless dollars and hours on elaborate programs which cater to the physical part of life — sports leagues, carnivals, musicals, meals, entertainment-driven events, and life-enhancement-oriented Bible studies. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the aforementioned things, there can be something wrong with them when they replace the things which ought to be at the center of Christian fellowships — prayer, preaching, praise, and personal interaction with God’s people (see Acts 2:42).
On one occasion, Jesus’ disciples approached their Rabbi with a concern. They had tried to perform an exorcism, but they hadn’t had much luck. Perplexed, they asked their master, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus answered, “This kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting” (see Matthew 17:19-21). There are some spiritual things which can’t be accomplished apart from spiritual resources. If we want to acquire them, we must commit ourselves to God’s means of receiving them — prayer, praise, preaching, and personal interaction with God’s people. Ancient Israel had need of learning this lesson (see 2 Chronicles 7:14). I believe the modern church needs to learn it as well.
Dr. Patrick Latham