About a fifth of us don’t have much use for religion, according to The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. That’s a pretty sizable chunk of us—the most ever since Pew’s been keeping track of such things.
Now, the numbers are a little misleading. Very few folks—about 6 percent—describe themselves as atheist (they’re sure God doesn’t exist) or agnostic (they’re pretty sure, but they’d probably not bet their summer home on it). In fact, more than two-thirds of these religiously unaffiliated respondents, called the “nones,” say they believe in God. And 21 percent of them say they pray every day.
But there’s still plenty here to take note of. More than two-thirds of those nones believe religion is too rules-based and too political. Seven out of every 10 think that religious people are “too concerned with money and power.” And 88 percent aren’t actively looking to find a religion or get closer to God: Disinterest is working for them just fine, thank you very much.
Now, for those of us who try to take our faith seriously, that’s a bummer. I think most of us would say that our faith is a pretty nifty part of our lives. We might even say that our relationship with God is what, in the end, makes life worth living. For this and loads of other reasons, we kinda like to share our faith—perhaps a little shyly or clumsily at times, but still, we know it’s worthwhile: Just like that Mexican food place downtown or the burger joint around the block, we want to get people to try our faith. Once they get a taste, we figure, they’ll be back.
And so this afternoon while driving to the gym, I found myself thinking about what we Christians might do better to help better convey the beauty of Christianity to those who have trouble seeing it.
And then, in the parking lot, it hit me. Or rather, I almost hit it.
There, taking up four parking spots—count ‘em, four—was a compact truck. And he wasn’t just largely in one spot and eking into the other three: He had park almost smack in the middle of all of them. If it wasn’t so rude, I might’ve been tempted to be impressed. After all, it took some effort to be that inconsiderate.
As I eased my car beside the truck, a bumper sticker on it caught my eye.
“God Bless America”
it said, splashed across a red, white and blue background. And underneath that one, another read,
“Faith, hope, love.”
Now, I know that none of us is perfect. Our whole faith is really based on that simple truth. As another bumper sticker says, “Not perfect, just forgiven.”
But hey, maybe we shouldn’t abuse that license, you know? Just because God may not keep a manila folder full of our jerkish parking moments, that doesn’t mean we should should take advantage of that fact.
I know that there are many complicated reasons why the United States seems to be growing more secular. There are thousands of theories on how to best bring people to Christ and how we can be most effective as the faith’s ambassadors. An official rulebook of evangelism would be a thick and controversial book indeed.
But I think that we could get past the first page without too much controversy. It might contain just one rule: Don’t be a jerk.
Don’t swear at the underpaid drive-thru worker at Taco Bell. Don’t cut in line. And for goodness’ sakes, don’t take up four parking spots when one will do. After all, Christianity’s supposed to change us from the inside out. Let’s show that it has.