Religious Freedom, Apathy, and Ears That Cannot Hear: The Challenge of Evangelizing in America

There are many blessings for Christians that come from living in the United States.  We have the freedom to assemble for worship, we have the freedom to talk about our faith and proclaim the gospel.  Due to the wealth this nation has enjoyed, we have been one of the greatest, if not the greatest, sending nations of missionaries to other parts of the world.  

But that which is good can also be bad.  

Religious freedom means that most people in the U.S. have had some exposure to Christianity (or a version of it).  Continual exposure results in familiarity, and familiarity without consequences breeds apathy.  With all of the wonderful blessings that religious freedom brings, lack of persecution and consequences creates a perfect petri dish for an abundance of false converts, and false versions of Christianity.  That is where we find ourselves today, my friends.

In Luke 14:25-34 Jesus tells his disciples to count the cost of following Him.  For those that have believed the true gospel and placed their faith in the Jesus of the Bible, there is a cost.  The gate is narrow, and few find it (Matthew 7:13-14).  But when you have a culture and society that places few if any consequences on following Jesus, Jesus simply becomes part of the background noise; He is diminished.  The road becomes wide as Jesus becomes less defined; a more palatable version that can be digested by the pagan man or woman.  

Mike Ratliff author of the Possessing the Treasure blog, put it well in his recent piece What are destructive heresies?

False professors and false prophets have one thing in common. They are convinced that the ‘religious paradigm’ they love, cherish, follow, and proclaim is true. Of course, they come to this conclusion through what some of them refer to as their ‘thinkology.’ In other words, what makes it true in their hearts is their own acceptance of it. The deciding or defining standard, which is used by these people, is their own value system. They oppose clear Biblical truth because “they just don’t believe it” while they embrace humanistic forms of Christianity simply because their ‘thinkology ‘ gives them a green light.

When I survey our current culture and society, this is precisely what I see: a country of people who are overly familiar with Christianity, apathetic to the true Gospel, professors (or maybe not even professors) without cost to claiming the name of Christ, who have developed their own version of truth with their ‘thinkology’ and have slapped the name ‘Jesus’ on it.  Perhaps because they know the truth and hope to give their argument weight (all while rebelling against God), or to niggle at those standing for truth, or they have bought their own lie and are truly deceived by their false build-a-jesus.  Likely a combination of all of those.  The end result is that it is very difficult to evangelize a population that think they already have the truth.

For about eighteen months I was a volunteer online missionary with an organization called Global Media Outreach.  We interacted with hundreds of people who were coming to faith in Jesus that resided in countries where professing faith could result in serious consequences.  Death, loss of job, imprisonment, broken family relationships.  Claiming Jesus was not for the casual religion partaker.  You only claimed Christ if you were really willing to count the cost.  In all those months I had only two individuals that I briefly discipled from the United States.  Two.   And for all of the reasons that I have already laid out, I was not surprised.

With all of the hysteria surrounding our recently installed president, I am suddenly hearing the name Jesus a lot.  Many who don’t seem to pay much attention to Jesus suddenly find him a valuable tool in their arguments for things like immigration, women’s rights, universal health care, etc.  Of course, these jesus’ are not the Jesus we find in the Bible, but a jesus built with thinkology.  Social justice jesus, ty beanie-baby jesus that loves everyone and has zero expectations, red-neck jesus that wants everyone to have guns and just suck it up and deal.  If you can imagine it, I can guarantee that there is a jesus that has been built for it.  

I am blessed to be part of a church that has a heavy focus on missions.  The last two Sunday’s we have had sermons based on proclaiming the gospel.  I am so glad my church is gospel centered and takes the great commission seriously.  At the same time, I have to be honest when I say that I am very discouraged by the spiritual deafness and blindness here in the United States.  All of the ranting and raving and arguing going on as a result of our political state clearly reveals a nation of hard, darkened hearts.  They are familiar with the name of Jesus, but have no idea who He really is.  The majority are unwilling to listen because they think they already know the truth.  There are no consequences, as of yet, for proclaiming Christ here.  And because of that, the voices that are proclaiming truth are drowned out.  

I know many well-meaning Christians were grateful that a man was elected who seems to be a protector of religious freedom.  I admit, living where there is no persecution has many blessings.  But I have to wonder if it wouldn’t be much better for the church if there was a cost to be counted.  I can guarantee that the churches would be healthier.  All of the people who actually believe in a false Jesus would quickly flee from their affiliation with Christianity.  Without a myriad of voices proclaiming false Christianity’s and false versions of Jesus, the voice of truth would be able to be heard.  As the saying goes, the darker it gets the brighter the light shines.  

It seems to me that this over saturation and over familiarity with Christianity, and the resulting apathy, may be a judgement on a rebellious nation.  I have already stated that I believe we are seeing the signs of a Romans 1 judgement here in the U.S.  Although I find our current culture discouraging and full of falseness, I am also quite certain that God is the one who is sovereign in salvation.  All that the Father has given to the Son will be saved (John 6:37).  No one will slip through the cracks. I am thankful for the comfort that brings.  Fellow Christians, keep sharing the gospel even though it may seem like your voice is not being heard.  God’s Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11).  It either brings salvation, or is justification in the condemnation of those who reject the Son.  

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

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