Faith Integrated with Your Behavior?

Over 100 million Americans claim to have a Biblical Worldview and would call themselves Christians. New research shows that only 20% actually have integrated their faith with their behavior. 

Jesus once asked his own disciples a very straight-forward question: “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:12-23, Mark 8:27, Luke 9:18-21). It’s an interesting question to ask yourself. How would you really answer it?

Of course at that specific time in the 1st century B.C., the question was understandably debatable among the general public and the Jewish religious sects of the day. Some thought he was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of other prophets. Only Peter stepped forward and boldly claimed the truth: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Today we have 2000 years of physical evidence, historical records, written Scriptures, eye-witness accounts of Christ’s coming, death, and resurrection from the dead, including the Pentecostal birth of the Christian Church and its manifested global implications.

Yet we still have many unconvinced, confused and unsettled on the matter.

In America, one might say that we are actually a nation of hypocrites. Pretty harsh but true if you believe the latest research from The Barna Group in conjunction with the American Culture and Faith Institute.* Their 2017 research shows that while 46% of the general adult public, or 112 million out of an estimated population of 250 million, call themselves “Christian” and possess a so-called Biblical Worldview, only 10% of the general public or 24 million actually have an “integrated” faith.

That is, only 20% of the 112 million American Christians would be categorized as “Integrated Disciples” in the research study, or those designated as having a biblical worldview based on integrating their beliefs and behavior into a lifestyle that reflects foundational biblical principles.

80% in Bad Soil
To best illustrate this, recall Jesus’ popular Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:18-23, Mark 4:13-20, Luke 8:11-15). In the parable, a gardener tosses planting seeds on the ground. Some seeds fall on a hardened path and are quickly eaten by the birds. Other seeds fall on rocky ground where they quickly wither away in the hot sun. Still other seeds fall into soil with thorny weeds and are soon choked and smothered. Finally some seeds actually fall on good soil where they take deep root and bring forth fruit a hundredfold.

This helps us understand what could happen to people who “hear the Good News” from God (the seeds and grower in the parable) about Jesus and the kingdom. Some (hardened path) never have a chance as their hearts are hardened or their minds closed. Some (rocky ground) never nurture or develop what needs nourishment and commitment. Some (thorny weeds) hear the word but are distracted by the cares of the word. But some (good soil) hear and understand and grow deep roots and produce great and plentiful fruit.

“Integrated Disciples”
The study takes into account the belief components of a Biblical Worldview (moral and absolute truth, authenticity of the Bible, Christ’s atoning death for reconciliation with God, God as the eternal, all-powerful creator and controller of the universe), as well the behavior of a believer. George Barna himself notes:

“Past worldview research has focused on religious beliefs. But in developing this instrument we discovered that someone may claim to believe something, but if their behavior does reflect those beliefs, it is doubtful that they really believe what they claimed to believe. Jesus taught His disciples that the right beliefs are good, but the real measure of where you stand is what He labeled the fruit of a person’s life, referring to the product of applying one’s convictions. As a result, we created this measurement process with the intention of blending both core beliefs and core behaviors to estimate the biblical consistency of peoples’ worldview. Because that process involves both beliefs and behavior, with the intention of being an imitator of Christ, we chose to call such people Integrated Disciples. They are effectively blending their beliefs and behavior into a Christ-like lifestyle.” *

* Groundbreaking ACFI Study Reveals How Many Adults Have a Biblical Worldview, February 27, 2017, http://www.culturefaith.com

Addressing the Double Whammy
It’s now easier to understand the American Christian disconnect. We actually have the double-difficulty of having one believe the tenets of a Biblical Worldview while also nurturing in good soil so as to yield a multiplied fruit output. No wonder the “all in” Christian is a statistical minority in what many once considered a Christian nation.

We, the Christian Church, need to cross-check and re-gird the Christian community. The formula is Biblical:

  • Read the Word of God, the Bible, individually and in small groups
  • Teach the Word of God, the Bible, individually and in small groups
  • Read and teach our children the Word of God in our homes
  • Pray individually and in small groups for our families, neighbors, friends, churches, co-workers, and leaders.

If we live and influence those around us in a Christian walk that knows and teaches the Word of God, the Bible, we will be quite able to answer Christ’s question, Who do you say that I am? and no doubt grow roots that are nourished and deep in rich, good soil that will produce multiplied fruit and harvests “thirty, sixty, and even a hundredfold.”

Then we will live a life of faith and behavior fully aligned and integrated.

Is your life and faith fully integrated?
_________________________
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” – Matthew 6:33



Categories: Abundant Living, Church, Devotion, Faith, Purpose

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