Once again we hear public officials beginning their statements to the press saying, “The victims and their families are in our thoughts and prayers.” What does that really mean? Think about it. It is human-centered. Our thoughts. Our prayers. It’s not in any way a statement about God; beneath the spiritual veneer it’s about us.
A Barna survey asked Americans to agree or disagree. “The best way to find yourself is by looking within yourself.” 91% agreed, and 76% of practicing Christians agreed. “To be fulfilled in life, you should pursue the things you desire most.” 86% agreed; 72% of practicing Christians agreed. “The highest goal of life is to enjoy it as much as possible.” 84% of Americans agreed; 67% of Christians. “When we peel back the layers, we find that many Christians are using the way of Jesus to pursue the way of self…. While we wring our hands about secularism spreading through culture, a majority of churchgoing Christians have embraced corrupt, me-centered theology” (David Kinnaman, Barna Trends 2017; 53). “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
The New York attack was despicable, just like all the other mass killings. I’m just observing that spiritual comments on camera show how shallow faith has become in America. Martin Luther explained the First Commandment by saying, “We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.” Where is the fear of God in today’s America? Any public official saying, “God, have mercy on us?” The Reformer began his explanation of the rest of the commandments saying, “We should fear and love God so that we….” Each subsequent commandment impacts society because a true Christian – not the nominal Christians of Barna research – fears and loves God and gives himself to others. Reformation should be ongoing.