There is a small but vocal movement out of the United Kingdom (England and Wales) that is trying to change the designation of the UK as a “Christian nation”, seeing that those who identify themselves as Christian are no longer “the majority” (46%, down from 59% ten years ago). Among the factors they cite for such a state of affairs is the declining commitment to spiritual things (“no religion” has increased to 37% from 25%; other religions such as Hinduism and Islam have posted small gains).
I’ve pondered long over this statement of declining commitment. In fact, it is a problem resident in the human heart way before the declaration of a “post-Christian era” in the 1930s. Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah saying, ”This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7:6-7) The “aha!” moment comes when we understand that the problem is not a waning commitment over religion but an increasing commitment over the religion of the world. We pursue idols of our own fashioning rather than the life-giving power of Jesus Christ. I was reading recently of how the Ukrainian military was encouraging Russian conscripts to surrender; they called their program, “I want to live”. How insightful and apropos! Choosing Jesus in the midst of the cacophony of atheism, idol worship, Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam or agnosticism is not about choosing whom to surrender to but about choosing life from the Only One who can give life. May we during this season as Advent ascends into Christmas come to remember that Jesus is the Giver of Life. Forsake anxiety that brings death; leave idolatry of money that sentences us to entrapment; say no to complacency that makes our hearts grow cold. Say to Jesus, “I want to live.”