LIVING IN CHAINS

A seventies song from The Eagles, “Already Gone”, had the following line in the lyrics: “…so often times it happens that we live our lives in chains and we never even know we have the key.” I believe that to be true and there are so many different types of chains that confine or restrict our ability to enjoy life. Paul mentioned being in chains in Philippians 1: 12-14, but he says because of his chains many of the brothers “have been encouraged to speak the Word more courageously and fearlessly.” So he viewed being in chains to be a positive condition to advance the Kingdom of God. I know around the world many people are “chained and tortured” for their faith, but I think here in our culture our chains are not advancing the Kingdom; they are dragging us down and preventing us from living the abundant life that Christ promised.

Chains in our lives come in a variety of shapes and colors. Here’s how I have considered them:

Illness (physical/mental)
– Depression
– Fear/worry
– Loneliness
– Grief
– Past failures
Addiction
– Drugs
– Alcohol
– Tobacco
– Sex
– Pornography
– Cell phones
– Food
– Power
– Gambling
– Shopping
– TV
– Video games
– Money/possessions
Inactivity/Apathy

I have a lot of numbers and statistics that are interesting and really sad in many of the areas above; too many to list in a post. However, I think the biggest problem we face is Inactivity/Apathy. Here’s my reasoning:

“To measure a person’s level of irreligion, Barna Group tracks 15 metrics related to faith. To qualify as ‘post-Christian’, individuals have to meet 60% or more of the factors (9 or more out of 15 criteria). ‘Highly post-Christian’ individuals meet 80% or more of the factors (12 or more).” Metrics:

1. Do not believe in God
2. Identify as atheist or agnostic
3. Disagree that faith is important in their lives
4. Have not prayed to God (in the last year)
5. Have never made a commitment to Jesus
6. Disagree the Bible is accurate
7. Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
8. Have not attended a Christian church (in the last year)
9. Agree that Jesus committed sins
10. Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
11. Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
12. Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
13. Have not attended Sunday School (in the last week)
14. Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
15. Do not participate in a house church (in the last year)

The percentage of Americans who qualify as “post Christian” rose from 37% to 44% in 2015.

Another Barna study says, “There is a declining depth of commitment among born-again Christians (the 56%) to their faith over the last 20 years.” The study shows
attendance at weekend church services has declined by 7% since 1991 (survey looked at 20 year period from 1991-2011) 66% -59%

Believers who read the Bible during the week (not including when they are at a church service decreased by 9% (71%- 62%)

Volunteering at church during the week dropped from 41% to 29%

So what’s the big deal? Simply, we as Christians are charged with being “the light of the world”; and our light is growing dimmer and dimmer because we are either too lazy or just don’t care enough to read and study the Bible, attend worship services, give our offerings…all the things we are commanded to do. So how can we influence the world? We can’t; and those who are watching our lives know that.

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