Is America a Christian nation? That's less and less true. Like we talked about in the first message of our One Nation Under God series, America has drifted from the Christian values that it was founded on. The signs of cultural decline are everywhere, from our skyrocketing national debt, to the breakdown of the family, to the killing of millions of unborn children. For more and more people, being a Christian isn't what they want to be. Recent Pew research shows the number of people in the U.S. who describe themselves as Christians has declined pretty sharply in recent years, dropping from 78% in 2007 to 70% in 2014. (For Millennials, it’s only 57%, down from 65%.) In a country with 245 million adults, that’s about 19 million fewer Christians. On the receiving end of that change, people who claim no religion at all increased from 37 million to 56 million, a 50% increase in just 7 years.
As for why that change has happened, many people suggest that it’s at least partly because being a Christian isn’t the social advantage that it once was. Since America was long thought of as a “Christian nation,” saying you were a Christian (whether you really believed it or not) helped you fit in and be popular.
Though the majority today still call themselves Christian, the Christian worldview clearly isn’t as popular right now. Even basic ideas, like saying that children should have the right to live or that people should (still) have freedom of religion, are often met with public backlash. There are even a few examples of people losing jobs or losing business for simply quoting the Bible or trying to live out what it says. Though such cases are rare, they’d be nonexistent in a truly Christian nation.
I’m not saying, at all, that American Christians are being persecuted the way that many Christians are around the world today. That would be unfair to those who literally face death for speaking up about their faith.
All I’m saying is that Christianity is becoming the minority view. Though most Americans say they are Christian, many of those aren’t really clear what that means, and most of them don’t have a biblical worldview. They say they are Christians and then speak out against biblical principles. So the biblical view becomes less popular; those who are only seeking popularity no longer claim to be Christian; and you have the current spiral we’re in.
Of course, if you are a true Christian—someone who has trusted in the gospel—popularity has zero to do with your faith. You don’t follow Christ because it’s popular; you do so because it’s the truth, and it’s the only way you can be saved.
If that’s you, you’re going to find yourself on the unpopular side. How do you respond? Do you, as some people have suggested, simply withdraw from public life? Stay quiet so you don’t risk offending anyone?
I’d say the answer lies in Romans 1:16:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Share the gospel. Do not be ashamed of it. Though some might try to shame you for it, and though it may be unpopular, it is far more important than any of that. “Because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” We’re talking about eternal salvation here, and the only way to be saved (John 14:6). It’s the most important thing you could tell anyone.
Part of the current popularity game is that many people want to portray the Christian message as hate. But truth is not hateful; it’s just the truth. And the gospel is the direct opposite of hate; it’s the most loving thing you could ever tell anyone (John 15:13). The gospel is the story of a truly innocent man willingly giving up His life to save a guilty death row inmate. And you, and I, and every person you know—we’re the death row inmate. Every one of us is guilty of something (Romans 3:23). Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment on our behalf, and that extreme act of love is the only way any of us are making it out of here alive (Romans 5:8).
So if you want to show love to someone, share the gospel. If it makes you less popular, share the gospel. If someone someday tries to outlaw it, share the gospel. If you find yourself in a place where it could cost your life, well, you know where you’ll be after you die. Share the gospel.
And don’t be discouraged; the gospel is winning. It might not seem like it here, but that’s just one country. It’s growing mightily in many others; often, by the way, in places where Christians truly are persecuted for what they believe.
So do not be ashamed. Share the gospel. Your country’s eternity depends on it.
(With help from Kevin McConaghy)