In a recent opinion poll, 94 per cent of the people claimed that they believed in a personal God. But how many of them do anything about him? Almost everybody prays to God in moments of danger, bereavement or crisis. But how many bother about him at other times? Very few. There is a widespread retreat from religion going on in the Western world at the present time. Undoubtedly the church is partly to blame for this; it has been defensive, inward-looking, lacking in social concern, cowardly in speaking out about moral issues, and sometimes reluctant to face the truth The church has gone s long way to make Christianity incredible. It is the church, not Jesus Christ, that is the main stumbling-block for ordinary people.
But when all this was said, and it must be said with deep humility by any honest Christian the current drift from Christianity is culpable. A great many people who are all too ready to dismiss religion with a wave of the hand are themselves unwilling to face up to the challenge of Jesus Christ. If Christianity is wrong about our origin or destiny, the purpose and the meaning of life, the value of persons and the secret of living together in community, then get up sad say so! Say it violently, aggressively if you like: but say it after you have personally examined the evidence. Yet this is precisely what so many are apparently too afraid or too lazy to do. On matters of such vital importance they are content to be guided by scraps of information gleaned long ago in the Sunday school, by the latest newspaper attack on the faith, or by the voice and visiting habits of the local clergy!
I am convinced that the modern apathy about Christianity is nothing less than escapism. People are afraid of facing up to the challenge of Christian standards of behaviour and Christian discipleship. Have you noticed how people avoid sitting next to the man with the dog-collar in a bus or train ? How some of the most militant atheists in a university simply dare not go along to a Christian meeting? How many a working man is literally terrified of being seen entering a church ? Behind all these attitudes lies fear; fear of having to be reminded about the God we would much rather forget; fear of having to let our lives be scrutinized and springcleaned by God; fear of what other people would say if we came out on thc side of Jesus Christ. It is much easier, much more comfortable, to run away.