1 Peter 2:9
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” (ESV)
Barna researchers asked people what kinds of religious behavior they considered “extreme.”
93% said that using religion to justify violence was extreme. I’d agree with that one!
But 60% also said that evangelism was extreme. Evangelism is simply talking to someone else about your faith. Doing that may not be the #1 item on your Saturday to-do list, but it’s a normal, historic Christian practice. And more and more people think it’s “extreme” behavior.
11% think that reading a Bible silently in public is “extreme.” I’m not talking about yelling our “repent!” on a street corner. What we’re talking about here is someone reading their Bible quietly outside with a Starbucks. To more and more people that is “extreme” behavior.
And then this. 7% say that going to church on Sunday is “extreme.” It might seem like 7% is a small number, but not when you consider what we’re talking about.
The research is American. But I would argue that Canada (where I’m from) is at least 15 to 20 years further down the path when it comes to secularization. So I think those numbers would be higher here.
But even though the changing attitudes may be a bit surprising, they’re not intimidating. After all, in light of this changing landscape, I think that for the first time in about 1600 years, North American Christians today can share something else in common with those first believers many centuries ago.
We are increasingly different from the world around us. But here’s the thing. We are different FROM the world FOR the world.
What that means is that we believe and live differently than many of the people around us. Sure, we have similarities. But we worship God, devote ourselves to prayer, Bible reading, and service, and try to uphold a way of life that we hope will contribute to God’s kingdom.
But we’re not different because we’re better or so that we can retreat into a colony. We’re different from the world FOR the world… We exist to become more like Jesus to bless and help the community and world around us, regardless of whether they believe the same things or not.
Today, if you feel a bit different because of your faith. That’s okay. You’re SUPPOSED to feel different. Not because you’re superior, but because God is calling your humble self to something great:
To be a part of his kingdom come, his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
By Matthew Ruttan
- Today’s “Up!” is partly based on my Sunday message at Westminster. I started a new series called “Peachy – How to have confident convictions and lead with love when others think your faith makes you foolish or fanatical.” If you want to listen to the podcast just go here. Enjoy!