Updated: Jun 19, 2019
In our age and especially among millennials like myself, the most dangerous trend that I have observed is not atheism, or agnosticism. It is actually what the apostle Paul calls "a form of godliness which denies the power within". The New Living Translation puts it this way: "They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly" (2 Timothy 3:5). Oh, what a tragedy this is in our times!
When I was much younger growing up in the northern parts of Bulawayo, I never met anyone who argued about what was right or wrong like I get to see in these times. Back then, there was a very strong sense of "there is a God, and he is bigger than us". I mean, I know this is still largely the case here in Africa, but the situation among my peers is dire, as a sort of secular humanism has eroded any notion of deity that pokes its head in the marketplace of ideas.
It started off for me in university.
I remember sitting there and hearing for the first time blatant denial of the existence of deity, and hearing for the first time ideas of human self-adequacy and self-worship, and not in those very terms, but the very point was made. Fast forward years later, I wouldn't even have imagined that this is where the world would be. What is heart-breaking and fascinating though is that young people do not necessarily outrightly deny that there is a God - some do off course - but most of them want to acknowledge him verbally, and live day to day as if He actually does not exist.
I must admit I have read WhatsApp statuses, tweets, or seen Instagram pictures or stories which had a hint of religiosity and the language of Christianity, yet the next post blatantly went against the fundamentals implications of the Christian faith. For instance, is it not just outright ridiculous that someone who promotes sexual immorality and uses obscene language on their social media today has the audacity to also share a verse on that same platform and can use language that is in tandem with the Judeo-Christian faith tomorrow? - They live diametrically opposed lives to it!
Now, I know what you are thinking at this point, so let me address it. Christians are not perfect, and people in general are imperfect. But the difference between those whose faith is in Jesus for salvation and those who are not, is that faith in Jesus produces a fruit - which is called repentance - and a new life and set of convictions develop, while the latter has no such experience.
When I preach to young people I always use the example of how the moment I stepped into high school just before I turned 13, nobody sat me down and showed me how to objectify women - I just somehow knew how to do it. To the point whereby turning heads in the streets to see their back-side was absolutely natural.
A few years later, when the Lord saved me at 16, my struggle with lust was not taken completely away - but I had the power of God's Spirit helping me - and turning my head to look at women's backside eventually became a thing of the past. Jesus changed my life, my desires, my passions and my mind. While I still will struggle with lust and other sins till my last day on earth, I wake up every morning with the reminder that sin's power over my life has been conquered and I am no longer a slave to it: I can say NO. (Read Romans 6 and 7 for more on this.) We struggle, we fall and we fail, yet our stance against sin is clear: we hate it with everything within us.
This seems to be the normative Christian experience in varied ways. Yet today, one can claim to be a "Christian" and yet nothing changes in their lives.
Hey listen, if there is absolutely no desire in you to obey the Lord and live your life in accordance to what He prescribed in His word (and we will all do this imperfectly by the way), let me help you understand what you are not: you are NOT a Christian. I say this with love. Posting verses will not help you. Praying emojis will not help you. You need to believe the gospel, and turn from your sin.
In 2 Timothy 3, Paul seems to be on a roll! He starts off by telling Timmy that in the last days, things will be pretty difficult (vv1), and I am sure you and I can attest! And then he begins to explain why - for people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.
I will not sweat the details but I want you to notice people's attitude towards God in all this:
Loving themselves when God said to love Him and neighbour
Loving their money when the Lord Jesus said you cannot serve God and money.
Being boastful and proud when God he exalts the humble and hates the proud.
Disobedient to parents when God said obey your parents.
Being ungrateful when God gave them all that they have.
They will consider nothing sacred when the sacred God is the means and ends of all things.
But Paul does not stop there. He goes on to mention that they will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. That last one is a hitter: I do not know how many times I have heard the idea that people should do whatever they want to do as long as they do not hurt anybody. The pursuit of pleasure (personal satisfaction) has overridden the love for God.
Listen to his next verse, which I already mentioned above:
They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
This is an exact description of the times we live in. Its as if where the prayer says, "Your will be done", people have made it, "My will be done". But here is the thing: its either God is God and He runs this thing, or you are God and run this thing. You and God cannot both be "kings" in your life. The throne is only for one. And if you are caught up in this web of purporting a "Christianity" that does not lead to any godliness, I want to encourage you to get some help immediately. Talk to someone and consider the good news of the gospel which is the only power that can change you.
The danger of our time is that ideas of secular humanism which make human beings a little more "cleverer" than they actually are have been mixed with Christianity in such a way that young people can be tempted to conflate both. And in so doing, the essence, substance and crux of the Christian faith is lost. And as wide acceptance of such a conflated animal grows, some have settled and concluded that this is all there is. I can show a form of religiosity, yet not submit to the power that can change me, and the Authority which is actually cleverer and wiser than me. This in my view, must be exhausting and conflicting.
It must be tiring to post on your social media about a God who you actually do not love.
It must be depressing to talk about a Jesus that you like, but cannot submit to.
It must be suffocating to quote Scriptures which you have no desire to follow.
It must be horrifying to know that you don't know Him personally, yet act like you do.
It's really His will, or your will. He is Lord over your life, or you are lord over your life. This is one those areas where there is no grey.
And I pray that you wrestle with these thoughts and seek Him for salvation, and not settle for some 21st century pretense-Christianity show, with no real power to change you.