Monday, January 15, 2007

most christians aren't

I always find it curious when people instantly find confidence in other people because they've identified themselves as "Christian." You know what I mean, like when you hear someone say, "I feel really good about my accountant because she's a Christian." Or, "I'm so excited because my son got a Christian teacher at his public school." Heck, I even find myself doing that.

But a recent survey conducted by the Barna Research Group found that only 9% of people who identified themselves as "Christian" actually held a Christian worldview. In other words, only 9% of "Christians" actually think biblically. 91% of "Christians" don't even think like Christ. So are they even Christian? And is having a Christian worldview really even sufficient to be considered a genuine Christian?

In the 1st century A.D. people who followed Jesus were known as people of The Way. In other words, you knew who they were not because of how they labeled themselves, but because of the way they lived their lives. Today it seems like way too many of us can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud the things he taught and the things he cared about without actually following his teachings or caring about those same things. I wonder how many of that 9% who have a Christian worldview actually live out what they say they believe.

It turns out Christian isn't much of an adjective anymore, and maybe not even much of a noun either. Maybe we should look for a new word--or perhaps an old word--to describe those who think and live like Jesus. The word Jesus used was disciple, which means follower, or student. It was a word commonly used in the trades of his day, a trade world characterized by an apprenticeship form of education in which an apprentice (disciple) gained knowledge and competence by emulating the practices of a master. Apprentices were discipled by their masters, and they became like their masters.

Maybe it's time Barna and his group stoped asking who is Christian, and started asking who is living out the revolutionary love of Jesus. Only then will we find out what percentage of our population is truly Christian.