Parade Magazine religion poll points to hard work for Christians

We’ve all heard the example before of how someone was such a good salesperson they could sell ice in Alaska or sand while sitting on a beach and so on.

When it come to sharing as Christians what our makes our faith important with others we’re not at those points yet, but we are heading in that direction – quickly.

A Parade Magazine poll and companion story which appeared on “CBS News Sunday Morning” yesterday confirmed this reality.

The poll has plenty of thought-provoking questions. One of the most important for Christians to focus on is on the validity of the faith you hold. The responses of “mine is the only true religion” and “no religion has validity” are both tied at a meager 12 percent. In other words if you take the “my way or the highway” approach, you’re in the distinct minority. The overwhelming majority – 59 percent – say all religions have validity.

The challenge here is obvious. Many Christians, me included, will attest to their faith and how God has worked in their lives. Yet if you couch it in terms of John 14:6, then the poll would suggest there’s a sand bucket and ledger waiting for you on South Beach.

I’m not suggesting that we abandon belief that Jesus is the Way nor am I suggesting we shun folks of other faiths just because they’re folks of other faiths.

What we have to do is be smart about how we communciate. This is hard work, and it doesn’t happen with broad brush strokes. It happens with the religious equivalent of the retail politics we see every four years in Iowa and New Hampshire, person by person at a time. Share your story. Share the why. You don’t have to be perfect – we know that’s not our job – you have to be authentic.

The hurdles can be enormous. In the “Sunday Morning” story, Barnard College religious history professor Randall Balmer put it well: “A good, say, Presbyterian, does tai chi in the park on Sunday morning, consults the astrological tables in the newspaper and does yoga when she comes home from work at night, and sees no sense of contradiction among these various sorts of activities.

“You have all these religious options out there, and we Americans are good consumers. And the criterion seems to be, what can this do for me? How can this make me a better person? How can this make me happier?”

We know why we believe what we do. What’s left – and it’s a weighty task, to be sure – is to follow Matthew 4:19-20.



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