Do You Believe There is a God?
Since the early 1940’s, surveys have asked adults the question, “Do you believe in God?” The results of such surveys typically have been a resounding yes. However, in the 21st century, the results have changed. According to Gallup polls, between 1944 and 2011, more than 90% of Americans believed in God. In 1944, and when asked again in 1947, and then during the 1950’s and 1960’s, a consistent 98% answered yes. In 2011, 92% answered affirmatively. In 2013, it dropped to 87%, and stayed there in 2014 and 2017. This year, it dropped to 81%. While the vast majority still believe there is a God, when given the option, 5 to 10 percent said they were unsure.
The groups with the largest declines include those with a more liberal philosophy of life, young people, and certain political leanings. Belief in God is highest among political conservatives and those with a more conservative political leaning. Gallup concluded one’s politics reflect one’s religious beliefs. (Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/393737/belief-god-dips-new-low.aspx).
While surveys and polls can be so geared as to generate a specific response, the fact this question has been asked consistently for decades tells us what even a casual observation of society around us reveals: God and the Biblical values that come from Scripture (which is believed to be from God) are no longer as prominent a factor in people’s lives as they once were. Along with the decline in belief in God has come drops in church attendance, membership, and confidence in spiritually-based organizations.
One might ask why all this is happening, and no doubt there are many things that can factor into it, but there is also no question that this pattern has been present in societies from the beginning of time. Cain refused to follow God’s will regarding acceptable sacrifices (Gen. 4:1-7). By the days of Noah, every intention of the thoughts of people’s hearts was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5). Even in Israel’s history, there were times when everyone did what was right in their own sight (Judges 21:25). In the first century, Paul could speak of life in the Roman Empire and conclude “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:22-23). The pattern of sin repeats itself in every generation, and the results of sin ruling people’s minds and hearts always produces sorrow, suffering, and death.
While we individually cannot change the course of a nation, if each of us who claim to be Christians lived consistently with the principles of New Testament Christianity as revealed in Scripture, what a difference that could make! Our friends and neighbors must see the difference Christ really makes in our lives, not just a duplication of the lives they live, of worldly desires and conduct that really shows nothing different between them and us. Do they know we have become slaves of Christ (Rom. 6:16-18)? Do they see a difference that makes in us, in the language we use, the goals we live for, the hope we have?
Peter reminds us, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:12). Let’s pray for our nation, let’s live as faithful Christians, and let’s show those around us the real difference being in Christ makes for life, today and eternally. Let’s hold fast to the truth of Scripture, in how to live and worship. Let’s take advantage of opportunities to speak to others about their soul, and tell them how they can truly come to Christ for salvation. If we each would be willing to do this, perhaps it also could be said of the Lord’s church in our time, we turned the world upside down for Christ (Acts 17:6). Scripture affirms God is real. It shows the way to have life in Him. We can show others that life by living it ourselves. We have the answer to the world’s problems. Will we seek to show others the better way?
μαράνα θᾶ (1 Cor. 16:22)