Is Christianity under attack?
It depends who you speak with. I hear some Christians who are determined to think North American Christianity is not only under attack, but under persecution. While others see no attack at all. I think the only fact we can all agree on is that the influence of the Church has changed in our culture.
I live in Canada and, I can say with certainty, Christianity no longer has a strong voice in our culture. I grew up in a culture where Christian leaders and denominations had significant voices in politics, schools, and the community at large. While that has changed over a number of years, we’ve seen a significant change in the recent times.
Does that mean there’s a threat on Christianity? If Christianity ceases to be a major voice in our society, does that mean Christianity is under attack? Are religions like Islam a threat to the Christian Church as immigration continues to fuel population growth?
I find it difficult to believe that what someone else chooses to believe, or not believe, has an impact on what I believe. Yes, its possible government policy can make it difficult, or even illegal, to believe something, but it doesn’t change what I believe. In fact, Christianity is growing rapidly in areas where it’s difficult to be a Christian.
Instead of focusing on the faithlessness around us, we should focus on remaining faithful to the gospel. Click To TweetInstead of focusing on the faithlessness around us, we should focus on remaining faithful to the gospel.
Paul warned Timothy of “godlessness”…
In the “last days” (today, until Jesus returns), there will be an increase in people moving away from God and towards themselves:
“…people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:2-5, ESV)
We might be quick to point fingers at those around us when we read this text, but Paul was clearly talking about godlessness WITHIN the Church. People who have “the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” In other words, Christians who “look the part,” but have focused their attention away from the true gospel.
We’re called to make disciples and be Jesus’ witnesses to the world around us (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8). That’s the mission, and any true threat to Christianity is what can actually derail that mission.
As a Christian, I see selfishness and pleasure becoming a norm in the Church (I’ll be honest — even in our family). We protect our time and money to the point where we encourage personal pleasure over sacrifice for the Kingdom. Our Church services have often become entertainment to ourselves before entertainment to God, and our weekly schedules revolve around our wants and not God’s call.
We only have to ask a few questions to find the reality in those statements:
- If our worship times were filled with songs we didn’t know, would we choose to quietly bask in God’s presence, or complain?
- If a ministry opportunity presented itself, would we schedule our recreation plans around the ministry, or schedule our ministry around the recreation?
You can only change yourself, not others…
It’s easy to point our finger to someone else, or another religion. The fact is, however, it’s impossible to change someone else. The only thing we can control, is how faithful we are to the gospel mission.
I find we’re quick to point to different beliefs, ideologies and government policies, and say how they will push God away and hurt our faith. When in reality, all are free to believe and belong to any religion they wish. It’s called freewill, let alone human rights. What someone else pursues doesn’t really impact my faith at all.
The biggest threat on Christianity is godlessness among Christians. Click To TweetThe biggest threat on Christianity is godlessness among Christians. And the crazy part — many of us don’t understand that. We’re too busying identifying the “sinful problems” around us that we’re missing the godlessness creeping into the Church. If we spent the same effort identifying and disciplining ourselves away from potential godlessness, and pursued authentic holiness (a closer relationship with Jesus), any threat against Christianity would be minimal.
Our world is looking for authentic Christianity. I think what they see most of the time is the “appearance of godliness,” but the power of the gospel is absent. We’re too caught-up in our pleasures, rights, and personal desires, that we miss out on being a disciple of Jesus.
Paul gave Timothy three safeguards:
The good news is that we have safeguards that can help us stay the course. Paul gave Timothy three in particular:1
- Follow Paul’s example (3:10-13)
Paul led the way before Timothy and he encouraged him to follow in his footsteps. As Paul wrote in another letter: “follow me, as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). This is true for us today on many levels. Not only can we follow Paul’s example in scripture, but we can also follow the faithful Christians and leaders who have recently navigated the faith.
- Remember Your Training (3:14-15)
Sometimes we think Sunday School is for children, but basic orthodox teaching can guard us against most godlessness that may creep into the Church. If we can remember the good teaching, discard the bad, and continue to learn in our faith journey, it will serve us well!
- Study Scripture (3:16-17)
Well studied scripture will never fail us! Yes, we can all take a verse out-of-context and end up believing a multitude of things. But if we faithfully read and study scripture, we will faithfully remain true to the power of the gospel.
What do you see as the biggest threat against Christianity? How do you safeguard against them?
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|⇑1||Further reading — Homer A. Kent, Jr., The Pastoral Epistles (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1982), 278-282|