I remember as a boy growing up for my first nine years of life in Calgary and then the next six years in Nelon, B.C., that going to church was one of the things most people did. Those who did not go to church were the exception, not the norm. How things have changed!
And yet, I believe that most of the Christians who are part of a church family today are solidly so. In fact, I believe that the Christians of today are, in some ways, stronger than those who went to church and thus identified as being “Christians” in my childhood.
Martyn Iles, the brilliant Australian Christian leader writes this: ‘I am not concerned that fewer people are identifying as “Christian” in the census. It does not mean that there are fewer Christians in Australia. It just means there are fewer people calling themselves Christians. See, there are no longer any social advantages to being Christian. And there are some costs, in some parts of life, associated with being a Christian.
So, those who ticked “Christian” because it was respectable, or because it was associated with their past, are not so ready to keep it up. It demonstrates that they are not really Christians at all. Because Jesus said, quite clearly, that a person “cannot be my disciple” unless they first “count the cost” (cf Lk 14:25-33)
Indeed, maybe this is the discovery they are making. Nominalism isn’t good enough. They have to decide one way or the other. Jesus said it first – sitting on the fence isn’t an option – “He who is not with me is against me.” As the cost increases, I believe every one of us will have to make this same call. We will all have to count the cost and make our stand. That could be a good thing, separating wheat from chaff, and refining those who remain. What will you be, when the chips are really down? “Choose this day whom you will serve.”‘