Free Not Cheap
Dr. Doug Posey
Within the last couple of years, Pew Research surveyed 35,000 American adults, showing,
…the Christian percentage of the population dropping precipitously, to 70.6%. In 2007, the last time Pew conducted a similar survey, 78.4% of American adults called themselves Christian.
In the meantime, almost every major branch of Christianity in the United States has lost a significant number of members…mainly because millennials are leaving the fold. More than one-third of millennials now say they are unaffiliated with any faith, up 10 percentage points since 2007.
The drop in those calling themselves Christian was seen as “astounding” and not limited to millennials. Every demographic and geographical area in the U.S. appears to be dwindling in those claiming Christianity as their faith. Meanwhile, other religions—like Islam and even atheism—are on the rise.
It’s easy to understand why, especially among millennials, Christianity is not the label many would deem as the acceptable one to be worn in public. It seems that “the left,” the media and the movement that legalized same-sex marriage, have successfully stamped the Body of Christ with a monolithic, negative perception of hatred. Because Christians are seen as hateful, bigoted and intolerant, those who have been the targets of their mistreatment, are celebrated as survivors, even heroes. In their minds, the culprit is not necessarily failure on behalf of those claiming to represent Christ, but—as the world sees it—biblical teaching and truth itself.
The answer is not found in denying biblical truth on hard topics. We need to love people—all people—and accurately present the truth as lovingly as we can. Some will still reject it, and us. We know the narrow gate will simply be too narrow for some; people will trip over the cross and the cost of being a Christ follower will be too high.
For these, there will be churches that avoid controversial issues altogether. They overflow with people who attend but have made no real commitment. They like what they hear, so they show up. Most want, “What’s in it for me?” But, where’s the cost? Instead of “Deny yourself,” somehow they think Jesus said, “Indulge yourself!”
Do people who make commitments to Christ really know what they’re signing up for? Unfortunately today many don’t, because the cost is kept well hidden. You can’t fill large arenas by telling people to deny themselves, pick up their crosses and follow Jesus.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was a young German pastor, professor, poet, philosopher who stood up to Hitler’s regime during WWII. He had participated in a plot to assassinate Hitler. For another “crime,” he was executed—hanged at the age of 39, just one week before Hitler died. It was for smuggling Jews to safety over the Swiss border. In his classic book, The Cost of Discipleship he compares “cheap grace” to “costly grace.” He saw the slide of the German Lutheran Church into the self-indulgent, non-committal practice of cheap grace as being responsible for allowing the godless Nazi regime to take over the land of Luther.
It serves as a warning to us. They went through the motions but never counted the cost of being true disciples of Jesus. It’s free, but as every disciple of significance through the centuries has demonstrated, it costs everything. And ignoring it affects everything—every aspect of society, from top to bottom.
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” ─LUKE 14:27