Enemy-occupied territory – that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. ~C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
The religious landscape of America is changing, and it isn’t good. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians; that sounds good, until you hear that a decade ago, 77% described themselves as Christians.
When you factor in different ages, the trend is even more startling. 84% of the Silent Generation (those born between 1928 and 1945) describe themselves as Christians (84%), as do three-quarters of Baby Boomers (76%); but less than half of Millennials (49%) describe themselves as Christians.
Among this youngest group, two thirds of Millennials (64%) attend worship services a few times a year or less, including about four-in-ten who say they seldom or never go. This is telling: Churches are spending more than ever trying to be ‘contemporary’ and relational – but it’s not working.
Perhaps that’s because we’ve got the wrong idea of what church is about. Instead of church being like a cruise ship and we’re trying to attract people to come on board, the church is more like a hospital ship in the middle of a war zone, and we’re trying to save wounded and weary souls.
That’s what C. S. Lewis was talking about in his delightful parable of Christianity and the church above. When we see the world for what it is – ‘enemy-occupied territory’ (see 1 John 5.19), and we are honest with ourselves (we are engaged in battle; see Eph. 6.10ff), we recognize we need help! Church is where we get that – not a feel-good experience, but “listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends.” The messages that matter are those that lead us to God’s Word and bolster our strength to stand strong for freedom from sin.
The author of Hebrews exhorted early Christians, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some” (Heb. 10.24-25). There are any number of reasons to go to church: A recent survey found that two thirds of Christians go to church for their kids, for personal comfort, or to become a better person.
But victory in this ‘enemy-occupied territory’ comes when we recognize the ‘rightful king’ has come, and we connect with Him through His Word. When you join other believers at NBBC on Sunday mornings, you are getting God’s Word with other ‘freedom fighters’!
The enemy is anxious to prevent us going to church; he knows that is where we can get recharged, refocused, and rejoice! Oh how he hates that joy! So disappoint him. See you this Sunday!