The Country That Does Not Know Jesus

Josh Wootton

“Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” – Isaiah 6:9–10

“The days of explosive church growth are over.” This quote came from a recent lecture by Dr. Jim Hamilton, the head of the Biblical Theology department at my seminary. He likened the people of today’s United States to the stubborn Israelites of Isaiah 6:9–10. God spoke against these Israelites, saying they would not hear, see, or feel His truth. Though they were saturated with God’s word, they would no longer believe it. Does this sound like our country? I’m sad to say, I think Hamilton is on to something.

The Pew Research Center published an article last week with the headline: “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace.” The article explained that in the last decade American adults who describe themselves as Christians decreased from 77% to 65%. In that same time period, people who identify as either atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular” rose from 17% to 26%. The article went on to show that, while 84% of the Silent Generation (born 1928–45) claim to be Christian and 76% of Baby Boomers (born 1946–64) claim to be Christian, only 49% of Millennials (born 1981–96) claim to be Christian. In addition, the percentage of Millennials who say they “never” go to a religious service is equal to those who say they go to a service at least once a week, both at 22%. These statistics are disconcerting to say the least.

I hope you are bothered by what you just read. It bothers me. The church is losing ground in our country. Something must be done, and here’s what we can do. We can get mad and complain about the situation, saying things like, “The (insert people group of your choice) are taking over. They’re ruining our county,” or, “I told you, this younger generation has turned on God.” We can lament the fact that Christianity isn’t what it once was, saying, “Oh I long for the old days when we sang hymns together and had dinner on the grounds and people wanted to be in the church.” Or, we can take a third option — we can wake up; we can get to work.

We do not live in a country that desires church like it used to, which means we can’t sit back and wait for people to come to the church. We must go to them. We must treat our country, our city, as a mission field and every Christian must consider himself/herself a missionary. We must do what missionaries do in non-Christian countries. They don’t construct a building and expect people to show up. They go get the people. Missionaries befriend non-believers; they find ways to relate to them. Missionaries have conversations with non-believers about things that matter to them, and missionaries are constantly looking for opportunities to show non-believers who Jesus Christ really is.

So, what will you do? This is the country that does not know Jesus. Will you complain about that fact? Will you lament that fact? Or will you wake up and live like a missionary, trying to change that fact?

Pastor Josh