That was the statistic that stood out to me in a brief article in this month’s Christianity Todaymagazine that came in the mail on Thursday. Research from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, whatever that is, found that 20% of non-Christians in the United States and Canada (almost 13.5 million people) do not “personally know” any Christians. Wow.
I am fully aware that America is really not a “Christian nation” any more, so I should not be surprised by that number. And I realize also that the people who made up the polling sample were not just from the church-inundated Bible Belt where we live pretty much on the buckle. But it still astounds me that one in five people across this continent would say that they don’t even know a single Christ-follower.
I wonder what that number would look like in the neighborhoods where we all live. Do the people on your street or in your work place “personally know” any authentic Christians?
I came across a quote this week–while searching for a good “quote for the week” for thisePistle–from Robert Murray McCheyne, who was a minister in the Church of Scotland back in the early 1800’s. McCheyne wrote: “The Christian is a person who makes it easy for others to believe in God.” In other words, God uses people like us to reveal and attract non-believers to the gospel.
If you’ve ever learned the Roman Road, a series of verses from the New Testament book of Romans that explain the basic tenets of the gospel, you know that the final “destination” verse on the road comes from Romans 10:13: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
But the apostle Paul would follow those words with several rhetorical questions, reminding those first-century Christians–and us too–of the necessity of non-believers hearing the gospel before they could respond. “How can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him?” he asked. “And how can they believe in him if they have never heard of him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?” (Rom. 10:14, NLT)
The implications are obvious. We have been sent, by Jesus himself no less, to build genuine relationships (to “personally know”) with those in our world, so that we can live out our faith and share the good news of the gospel with them in his name. But if they don’t know any Christians, who will be around to tell them, and to “make it easy for them to believe in God?”
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth,” and “You are the light of the world,” but if the salt remains in the saltshaker or the light is kept “under a basket” then what good does that do? Let’s make sure that we don’t live so much in our Christianized comfort zones that we forget the world around us and the co-mission to which we have been called. Go…and make disciples.
I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.