Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A (Slight) Majority of the World Believes in Supreme Being (or God)

   We stand in the bright light of Easter, as the move past Sunday and into the Season that is marked by celebrating the resurrection and what it means for all of Creation. A generous portion of attention is given, around Easter and Christmas, to topics of faith and religion in the press and amongst the people, and this year is no different.  
   Our new series, which started Sunday, Unwavering Faith in an Uncertain World, caused me to pay attention to a new poll released on the Monday after Easter that offers a snapshot of the faith and beliefs of 23 nations, including the US. I am sorry for the excessive use of parentheses in the title, but you will see that some headlines require some extra explanations to be accurate. Here is the raw data from the world's citizens surveyed:

  • 51% definitely believe in a ‘divine entity’ (though 6% think there are multiple ones)
  • 18% don’t believe in a god of any kind
  • 17% just aren't sure about their belief in any god
  • 41% believe in human evolution to explain how we got here 
  • 28% believe in creationism; the universe is the work of a Creator
   These are stark figures, and my guess is that they are generally accurate. I am not sure exactly what to do with them. These numbers can be taken as a punch in the gut, or a firm slap on the behind pushing th Church back out into the world to witness to the love of God and the work of Christ. Donald Miller, a thinker and writer, drills down even deeper amongst tat first group at 45% when he says, "the very scary thing about religion, to me, is that people actually believe God is who they think He is.  By that I mean they have Him all figured out, mapped out..." and placed neatly on a shelf in a category (page 20).  This makes the poll results even more stark.  
   What can we say to all of this in light of the Easter we have just celebrated, again?  Lots! We believe in the miracle that has happened in our lives - we have been rescued from lives that were perishing to lives that are abundant and eternal.  We worship the One True God, who did create heaven and earth, and continues to work to redeem all of Creation for His amazing glory. Our gathering for worship is truly a counter-cultural practice; we are setting ourselves apart. 
   What we do as a matters. The way we talk about faith and about God, matters. The details matter.  Our lives as Christians in the world - literally taking the love and witness of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet - matters.  Christ is Risen...oh, that the world might know.
   Grace and Peace, Scott

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