Societal Change and Faith

Vintage book and magnifying glass on wooden background

“I can’t understand how someone can still be religious in 2021.” I heard this in a recent conversation and it became stuck in my head. This statement clearly describes how the majority of our society feels about the topic of faith and religion.

But how could it get so far in our “Christian country”? And how can we as Christians be ambassadors of our faith in these times?

Throughout the centuries of the Middle Ages, Christianity became more and more distorted. It became a power instrument of the church that through fear, intimidation, and invention, such as the sale of indulgences, would gain them more riches and absolute authority. 

The Reformation by Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon, and others led to a glimpse of light in the 16th century before the Enlightenment in the 18th century finally ended the supremacy of the church and moved many people to disbelief. The enlightenment period led to many good achievements such as enormous scientific advances, a general increase in education, and improvements of social equality. However, it also brought some challenges, such as new philosophies and scientific theories like the evolution theory that caused people to turn away from their faith. 

At this time, the theory of humanism also flared up again. It describes the pursuit of better humanity, with the human being as an individual at the center of thought. In the many currents and teachings of humanism, man is elevated as the highest being, and the endeavor is to make being human even better and more worth living, and to bring him to a higher physical and spiritual level.

This constant individualistic thinking of man continues to this day and has been reinforced by ever-increasing wealth. Nowadays in the Western World, anything is achievable with someone’s own strength and work ethic. Almost everything on earth and in the universe is explainable through formulas and a few basic scientific principles. Political and social currents are working towards more tolerance and diversity towards all conceivable minorities and world views. 

And in the middle of this wealth, advancement, diversity, and tolerance one voice is heard less and less. This voice reminds: “Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver” (Psalm 50:22). 

Serious offences within the Catholic Church keep playing a role in the rejection of Christianity. One of my neighbors told me that he grew up in a Catholic boarding school and that he was only spared from abuse because of personal disputes with one of the supervisors. Several of his classmates later raised serious concerns towards this particular supervisor. According to his statement, that is the reason why he is skeptical and almost resistant towards religious institutions.

How tragic when those who should bring the saving message of the gospel and eternal joy are the ones who cause the greatest damage.

We not only see resistance towards the institutions of the Christian faith but also faith and the Bible in general. The Bible is looked at as a historic book, and its content is only looked at as symbolic at best. However, most of the time it’s just being mocked. In a time where everything can be proven scientifically, no one needs religious explanations and interpretations of individual facts and events. In many parts of our society, the Bible as truth is not being acknowledged. 

Therefore, it has become difficult to argue the truth of the Bible in discussions with coworkers, classmates, or passersby. These biblical truths are often viewed by the world as fairy tales, and arguments based on apparent falsehoods are not convincing. 

To talk with someone who refuses the truth of the Bible about where they will spend their eternity is almost impossible if they’re convinced that there is no eternity. 

Can we still reach our fellow men at all with the Gospel message? And if yes, how? I am convinced that this is only possible if we live a genuine Christian life that reflects real salvation. 

We need to look appealing to the world around us by the way we live out our faith. You will be noticed if you, with God’s help, are the calmest in a group project during a stressful phase of project, maintain your inner peace in a stressful situation, are not led to yelling or swearing about unfavorable circumstances or last-minute changes and are still the most productive part of the group. 

If you continue to be friendly towards your boss or coworkers even though several jokes, comments, or insults were directed towards you, you will be a light. 

And sooner or later, the question will come up why you are so different, so calm and patient through it all. Then you will have the opportunity to witness for God and to share your salvation story. Your own life will be the basis for discussion through which salvation clearly shines forth and which so many fellow men have watched with their own eyes. 

We cannot live such a life on our own. To do so we must cultivate an intimate relationship with our Savior, and need to ask Him day by day to give us the strength and wisdom to do the right thing and react properly in every situation of our lives. 

May God give you and me the strength for this!

Lukas Rode 

Hamm, Germany

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