The “Nothing in Particular” Crowd

There was a survey out this week saying that Christianity in America is on the decline. Seventy percent of us still identify as ‘Christian’ in some kind of way, but apparently that majority is shrinking. The percentage of people identifying themselves as “nothing in particular” grew by leaps and bounds.

Nothing in particular, because church is boring and irrelevant.

Nothing in particular, because Christians are judgmental hypocrites.

Nothing in particular because God is gonna do what He’s gonna do with or without our help.

I have no idea if this poll is correct or not.  Perhaps the true Christian population isn’t decreasing at all, perhaps it just wasn’t that large to begin with. It’s easy to go along with the crowd when it’s the popular thing to do. That convenient kind of Christianity isn’t going to get us very far anymore. The greatest way to draw in that “nothing in particular” crowd isn’t with a two minute pop culture sermon. We draw them in with the truth. Plain and simple truth, the way Jesus and His followers preached it. They didn’t have large buildings, money or technology. But they turned the world upside-down and inside out with power from above. The spoken Word and the power that comes with it was all it took to turn hearts and minds to Jesus.

It is heartbreaking that people are choosing “nothing in particular” over the abundant life that Jesus offers. It’s equally heartbreaking that professing Christians are living like practical atheists by believing more of what the world says than what God says.

God’s truth will ruffle feathers. It will stir things up. It won’t always be comfortable. That’s a good thing. Proclaiming the truth is important. Actually LIVING it out is even better.

Let’s have people be drawn to us not just based on what we say, but because of how our lives play out. If God’s power is manifest in our lives, all of the sudden that ‘nothing in particular’ lifestyle doesn’t seem so great. People take notice. They begin to ask questions. No one ever yearns for compromise, they hunger for Truth. Strip away all the fluff and misconceptions we’ve heaped onto it, and Christianity is actually quite exciting.

When we try and impress everyone, we captivate no one.

“The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful adjustment to unregenerate society, they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The idea that this world is a playground instead of a battleground has now been accepted in practice by the vast majority of Christians. There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives.” AW Tozer

Christianity isn’t dying out. It’s becoming more clearly defined. The separation of the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats… that’s what is taking place. Let’s not be “strangely unaware” of the battle around us. Let’s captivate people with the love and truth of Christ.  The enemy would like nothing more than to render us passive “nothing in particular” people. Believers and non-believers alike will be drawn to the true nature of God when they see it manifest. It’s that simple. We don’t need to ‘sell’ Jesus. His power speaks for itself. Be the vessel, speak the truth lovingly without compromise, and watch what happens!

Get Loud, Get Bold

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“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. They said, “What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old.” Acts 4:13-22

Part of the enemy’s strategy is to silence believers from speaking and sharing the gospel. Most of us aren’t specifically pastors or teachers, but we all have testimonies to share. Satan would like nothing more than to shut us down.

Peter and John were “uneducated and ordinary” men. They had no degrees or special abilities, only their testimonies and witness from spending time with Jesus. They had been arrested for threatening the status quo. What I find fascinating is that the elders and scribes acknowledged that a miracle had taken place, they just couldn’t bear the idea of their own authority being usurped. They preferred people suffer under their authority than be free under Jesus’ authority. The beautiful thing was, the miracle spoke for itself. There was nothing they could do to change what happened, so they commanded Peter and John to just stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus.

Did they really believe these two men would go away that easily? They were so focused on self-preservation, I think they may have thought that would be the end of it. Of course, Peter and John had other ideas:

“And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. They raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them… Now, Lord, look on their threats and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” Acts 4:23-24,29

Whoops. Telling them to be quiet had the exact opposite effect. They went to their closest companions and relayed the entire story. Then, as a united group, they lifted voices up in prayer and praise to Jesus, thanking Him for being above all this craziness and asking Him to grant them even more boldness.

That’s how you deal with opposition my friends!

The disciples had seen so many miraculous things happen, they just took off and never looked back. They had no plan B or anything to fall back on. They healed the sick, cast out demons and spoke the truth boldly when opposed because of the power that had been given to them by Jesus. There was no arguing with the results. People can take it or leave it, but His power manifest is what it’s all about. Many people who cross our paths may never hear our personal testimonies, but they can see what our lives produce – good fruit or bad.

The enemy’s whole tactic is to silence us with threats, lies and fears. Instead of being backed into a corner, we need to have this boldness that Peter and John had. In the original Greek, it means “cheerful courage, clear presentation, not a human quality, a result of having God’s spirit, and authority.” I want all those things!

When fear tells you it isn’t possible, when the unbelief of others confuses you, when the enemy whispers that it’s a lost cause… take up this BOLDNESS, knowing that it is something that comes from God Himself. When the enemy tells you to shut up, ask God to make you LOUDER.

And if you have never read how the story ends, it’s pretty amazing:

“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and the spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31

Let the earth shake. Let the Spirit come down. Let the enemy be silenced and let your God-given courage and authority be made known!