Scratching the Christmas itch

Churches all over the world were jam packed over the last couple of days as people celebrated Christmas. Churches in Australia were no doubt packed like sardines in a tin – full to the gills with “believers” who only come to church at Christmas and Easter.

According to the two batches of stats I’ve posted recently about 50% of people in Australia identify as “Christian” and about 20% go to church semi-regularly.

The other 30% are those, who in the stats from the Neilsen poll I posted the other day, meet the following criteria:

They [Christians] are convinced (94 per cent) that Christ was a historical figure; fairly confident (91 per cent) that He was the Son of God; increasingly sceptical (72 per cent) about the Virgin Birth; and oddly – considering its key importance to the faith – uncertain that He rose from the dead (85 per cent). These beliefs are held very confidently. The Nielsen poll found almost nine out of 10 Australian Christians were absolutely or fairly certain of their beliefs.

If these numbers are accurate, and I have no reason to doubt them. Then why on earth do we spend Christmas literally preaching to the “converted” that Jesus is Lord. They know that. What they don’t know is that being a follower of Jesus can not be an apathetic and convenient association where you touch base with Jesus once or twice a year and expect it to all pan out in the end.

All Christmas sermons are the same – they proclaim Jesus as the promised Messiah, the one who would bring peace with God. Emmanuel. God with us. And yet – in all probability the people in the building already believe that.

This is the problem with branding Christianity with John 3:16 and the idea that “belief” as in “I believe in Japan” is what saves you. The mechanics of salvation can’t be explained with that single verse – or am I missing something.

Here’s a passage someone should preach on one Christmas. I dare you. Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’