The Barna Group came out with the findings of their recent survey on American perspectives on their own spirituality. Not that they really reveal anything new. They just confirm what Jesus already said.
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples,
“Why eateth your Teacher with the publicans and sinners?”
But when he heard it, he said, “They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what this meaneth, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:11-13).
Is anyone really righteous? No, of course not. But plenty of people think they’re righteous, and therefore have no need of reformation.
And lo and behold:
…71% of Americans think spirituality is “very important”
…64% are “deeply spiritual”
…82% of those who are spiritual are “spiritually mature”.
Really. Few congregations of the Lord’s people could truthfully and soberly say that 82% of its members are “spiritually mature,” let alone the whole country!
What is telling is that only 55% of the people surveyed rejected the statement that they would not change anything significant about their life. That means that a good chunk of the 45% of the people in this country are in that “righteous” category. They’re completely “fine.” They are “good, moral people” who have “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps” and have “made it.”
Then we have the “good moral people” statistics:
Americans who believe that they are making a positive difference in the world: 78%
Americans caring “deeply” about social injustice: 86%
Americans “concerned about the moral conditions of our country”: 86%
Really? Then where are all of these people and why aren’t they helping to foster or adopt children who have had injustice committed against them? Where are all the people working to end injustice in America itself, let alone around the world? Where’s the national outrage over the sex trafficking/slavery black market in America and around the world? If so many people are so concerned about morality, what gives?
Jesus made answer and said, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance a certain priest was going down that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And in like manner a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion, and came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on them oil and wine; and he set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow he took out two shillings, and gave them to the host, and said, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, I, when I come back again, will repay thee. Which of these three, thinkest thou, proved neighbor unto him that fell among the robbers?”
And he said, “He that showed mercy on him.”
And Jesus said unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:30-37).
If you stopped the above priest and Levite and asked them the questions in this poll above, what do you think would be their answer? Do you think that they would be concerned about the moral conditions of first century Judea? Do you think that they would believe themselves to be working to make a positive difference in the world, and that they would be against injustice?
Of course they were “good, moral people.” Of course they would be against injustice and working to make a positive difference in the world.
But when it was convenient, not defiling, and within their comfort zone. And not for that guy on the side of the road.
It’s always interesting to see what people profess versus what they actually do. We’re not that far departed from the priest and the Levite.
And finally, here’s the kicker:
Americans who believe they live a simple life: 84%.
I guess it’s all in how you define the “simple life.”
This survey and the answers provided show exactly what’s wrong with America: it’s full of a bunch of people who think a lot more highly of themselves than they should, a nation that ought to humble itself, and people who talk a far better game than they actually accomplish. Americans are concerned about the morality of their country but are unwilling to exemplify the characteristics of the Spirit that lead to better morality. Americans are against injustice in name but when it comes down to their pocketbooks and their convenience are willing to support all kinds of injustices, whether consciously or not.
A nation of hollow righteousness. Self-deceived and happy about it (84% were “at peace” with their lives).
Do we really wonder why it’s so hard to find receptive ears to the preaching of the Gospel in this land?
Do we really wonder why sometimes even we get caught up in this and fail to practice what we preach?
Ethan R Longhenry