"The thief comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy; I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly." John 10:10
According to the latest Barna Polls, a whopping 62% of Americans say they attend "church" on a regular basis. As of this writing, there are currently 313, 647, 470 people living in the United States, with one new birth every 8 seconds, 1 death every 13 seconds, 1 international migrant (net) every 46 seconds. The net gain is one person added to our roles every 14 seconds. 62% of 313, 647, 470 equals about 195 million people who say they are regular church attendees. And where do they go?
According to Hartford Institute for Religious Research, they go to roughly 335,000 churches across this nation. But a greater question is not how many, how often, or where people go to church but rather - WHY? Why attend church? Why believe? Why follow Christianity? Unfortunately, for a great deal of those 195 million U.S. church attenders the polls seem to show no major differences between them and non-church goers. For example, it is alarming to me to read the polls that show 51% of non-believers believe in abortion and 50% of "believers" also believe in abortion. The Barna Group goes further in explaining their research:
Born again believers 24% Non-believers 34%
Born again believers 9% Non-believers 16%
Born again believers 47% Non-believers 48%
Born again believers 23% Non-believers 27%
Born again believers 36% Non-believers 42%
Born again believers 69% Non-believers 68%
These disheartening statistics remind me of a true story I once heard about President Ulysses S. Grant introduction to golf, which can be related to Christianity, Faith, and church attendance. One of golfs immortal moments came when a Scotsman demonstrated the new game to President Grant. Carefully placing the ball on the tee, he took a mighty swing. The club hit the turf and scattered the dirt all over the President's beard and surrounding vicinity, while the ball placidly waited on the tee. Again the Scotsman drew back and swung, and missed. Our president waited patiently through 6 more tries and then quietly was overheard saying "there seems to be a fair amount of exercise in the game, but I fail to see the purpose of the ball."
Our faith has a purpose, our salvation has a cause. Jesus promised His followers in John chapter 10, right after he explains how satan comes to steal life, this: "the thief comes to steal, to kill and to destroy; I am come that you might have life and you might have it MORE ABUNDANTLY." (John 10:10) This New Testament verse (originally written in Greek) uses 2 specific Greek words for "MORE ABUNDANTLY." Jesus isn't talking about being more popular, more affluent, more intellectual, more cultured than the world and it's nature. He uses 2 Greek words: For the word "more" the Greek word episkoo-o is used, meaning "to go further, to go past the standard," and for the word "abundantly" the Greek word "perrissos" is used, meaning, "to be superior in thought and actions and results, to reach a higher level - to go beyond the normal measure." As believers, we are promised more! More than just a visit to church, more than just a religious experience, more than just a denominational name tag. We are promised a new way, a better way, a superior way of life once we know and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Now don't get me wrong, we are all sinners saved by His grace. There is nothing in any of us that is worth anything outside of our relationship in Him. But we, through our faith in His finished work, have been promised a life above normal existence. We are called to be different, set apart from the world. "But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, 'God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble'. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Be afflicted and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up." (James 4:6-10)
Why? It seems to be our driving question today. Why - again James fills us in: "Where as ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor (morning mist) that appears for a little time then vanishes away." (James 4:14) James gets it - the only thing that "burns off" and transforms that morning mist is the rising SON. An appropriate analogy to Jesus (the SON) rising in our hearts and transforming us into his image consequently giving us, "LIFE MORE ABUNDANTLY." For all our effort lets not miss the objective - swing at life with all you have - buts let's make contact with the One who can truly change the Game. JESUS! May God continue to bless you and your family.
In His Service (Forever Changed),
Pastor Mark Correll