It’s not like we don’t already know this, but a survey released last month found that fewer and fewer New Zealanders are attending church.
The results of the survey may give us much to despair about, but there is one wonderful hope. Firstly, it brings up important issues that we—the universal church—have kept stubbornly silent about.
According to the survey, the biggest ‘blockers’ to going to church were teachings on homosexuality and hell, as well as ‘church abuse’. It might be tempting to let the church off the hook by arguing that Jesus predicted, ‘You will be hated by everyone because of me,’ (Matthew 10:22). He was speaking to the disciples about the persecution they were going to face. But the church often uses this to dismiss negative reactions to Christianity.
However, the survey made one surprising discovery. It found that ‘perceptions towards Jesus are often quite positive; non-Christians suggest he is relatable, approachable and gracious’. The church has one great hope. His name is Jesus.
We sometimes argue that Jesus will never be popular. The truth is, Jesus has always been popular—right from the time that crowds flocked to hear him teach. It may be our representation of Jesus that is unpopular.
We must humble ourselves before our Lord. We may need to repent. And we need to ask Jesus to show us how to represent him within our small part of history.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Kīhai nei hoki te Tama a te tangata i haere mai kia mahia he mea māna, engari, kia mahi ia, kia tuku hoki i a ia kia mate hei utu mō nga tāngata tokomaha.