Surveys* show a significant percentage of Christians don’t behave consistently with their beliefs. Surprise, surprise, huh? For Christians whose beliefs are in line with Scripture, that discrepancy is generally called sin. So, this is no big surprise.
But, this survey done quite recently, went further. It asked these believers if they had a problem with this inconsistency between their convictions and their actions. A significant percentage said no. They were not bothered by the fact that they did not live according to their beliefs. It’s as if they just don’t care.
I mentioned this to some of my co-workers and we began to wonder. What is a day in the life like, for an individual Christian described by this survey? We know she is faithful enough to go church and calls herself a Christian, but when it comes to things like giving in to self-centeredness, lying, or not keeping promises her actions don’t seem to bother her. According to this survey about half of those folks who struggle with this sin, don’t feel guilty about it.
How could she be okay with that? Self-centeredness and lying are not like making meals, going to work or school, or keeping oneself clean. The Bible calls lying and self-centeredness sin. And sin is a big deal. Jesus died to deal with that.
The question I come back to, is what about this individual Christian’s experience, allows her to encounter sin, not realize it, or not think it’s a big deal? One possible answer is consumerism.
In a culture where appearance is everything and whoever dies with the most toys wins, then matters of holiness have little to no value, unless they make me look better. When my mind spends most of its time focused on my things: my work, my car, my house, my money, my investments, I just don’t spend any time considering whether I look more like Christ today than I did last week.
The scariest part of consumerism is not that I fear I might face the devil one night on a deserted highway and make the wrong decision to trade my soul for a million dollars, it’s that I’ve already sold it. And I already have my reward.
*Culturally Captive Christian Study 2010, research commissioned by Probe Ministries and conducted by Barna Group, 2010, 57-63.
For more on this issue, consider a work by a colleague of mine Kerby Anderson.