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Listen to the 10 min audio
Read the transcript:
THE RISE OF ISLAM — WHERE IS THE CHRISTIAN EVANGELISM?
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, a new Pew Research Center poll indicates that, by 2040, Islam could be the second largest religion in the United States. It continues to grow.
Harry, the second story I’d like to cover today is out of Sports Illustrated. It deals with the true freshman quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Tua Tagovailoa. He led his team in victory over Clemson in the national championship football game. The story goes into some detail about how the Christian faith has played a role in his life, his father’s life, his grandfather’s life – frankly, in all of the Samoan people.
SPARKS OF TESTIMONY FROM FAITHFUL NATIONS
DR. REEDER: The article also pointed out the significant numbers of very extraordinary athletes that have come out of the Samoan population and have found their place in the pantheon of sports in America, but what’s interesting, also, is the unbelievable number of them that are professing, practicing, principled Christians in life and you could see it with Tua’s insistence during the interview to keep giving glory to the Lord.
“Who would ever believe that the Lord would have done this for me and my life and my family? I just want to give Him the glory. And, Dad and Mom, I love you – I apologize for not putting you first, but I’ve just got to tell everybody what Jesus Christ has done for me.” And then we’ve seen other Samoans do the same thing.
Now, if you back up and you work into the history of the Samoan Islands – and, of course, many Samoans live now in the United States and the portal has been Hawaii – they’ve recently done a survey of this Samoan population and over 60 percent of them say that they are intentional and serious-minded Christians. You go to the Samoan founding documents of their nation and they say that, “We are a Christian nation that highly values and prizes our Samoan culture and institutions,” so they’ve acknowledged their history but they acknowledge that they are Christians.
Now, how did that happen? It was two sets of missionaries: one was Wesley and the other were evangelical missionaries that came and they brought the Gospel to that population. There was a wonderful response. They came, I think, it was in the 1840’s – I don’t know the exact date – and they began to spread the Gospel throughout the island and the nation really responded to it and it’s been marvelous to see the growth of Christianity in that population and its overflow.
ISLAM’S RISE IN AMERICA
Now you flashback to the other story that you just gave me, and that is the fastest growing religion in American, percentage-wise – not numbers-wise, but percentage-wise – is the Islamic religion. This is the religion that is fascist in nature because it makes use of the government to spread and coerce attendance and adherence to it. And this was the religion that came and brought the greatest disaster of an attack on the mainland of the United States at 9-11.
Now we see that this religion is growing and slated to be the second largest religion in the United States by the year 2040. What are the reasons for that? Well, I think there are a couple of reasons.
YOUTH NOT ACCEPTING WATERED-DOWN CHRISTIAN MESSAGE
No. 1 is Christianity is no longer having an impact because of the notion within Christianity that we have to make Christianity more acceptable to the culture and, therefore, the message is redefined from the Gospel message: “We’re sinners – we’re helpless and we’re hopeless – but Jesus Christ loves us. He doesn’t love our sin – He hates our sin – but He loves us and He redeems us from our sin so turn from your sin and put your trust in Him.”
And now that’s all morphed into, “Come to Jesus and He’ll make you a successful capitalist or He’ll make you healthy, wealthy and wise or He’ll be your personal therapist for your self-esteem.”
The Gospel message is deliverance and redemption. We’re captive in our sins and Jesus Christ sets you free to come to Him so that’s the message, but Christianity has lost the message. Therefore, the salt isn’t salty and the light isn’t shining, and Christianity isn’t making its impact in this nation as it once did. Well, people are religious so they are going to turn somewhere – they’ll turn to secular humanism, they’ll turn to Darwinianism and they will also turn to something that says, “Hey, we’ve got a message for you and we expect you to be totally committed to it,” and that religion is Islam.
And so, it’s finding its greatest success among the youth, who we think the way to reach the youth is to water down the message and make Christianity an entertainment experience instead of Christianity calling you to the free gift of eternal life and the free gift in Christ who paid it all and then calls us to this greatest gift by the greatest cost, which is to lay down your life and follow Him and know Him and the glory and majesty of His grace and mercy. That’s what is happening: that Christianity has lost its edge – has lost its sharpness, has lost its message because it lost its mission – but Islam is staying right on its mission.
MUSLIMS VALUE LARGE FAMILIES WHILE CHRISTIAN FAMILIES SHRINK
One other thing that I think is at work here is this: Muslims have children. Christians have bought into the secular world and life view of, “Well, we’re not supposed to have children. In fact, if we have children, we’re being irresponsible. You ought to have 1.7 children. That would be the responsible thing to do.” We see people with larger families that people look down on or telling them they’re irresponsible. “How dare you have such a big carbon footprint by having all those children?”
Well, God’s very clear to us. He says, “Be fruitful and multiply,” and I would suggest to you one of the ways that we’re fruitful and multiply is evangelism is through the family. Christians ought to have a world and life view that we do not see children as a burden or something to be avoided except that, “We’ll have just 1.8 children so that we feel better about ourselves. We’ll have enough children for our self-fulfillment in our marriage.”
No, we have children because God made us to reproduce and we rejoice. “Blessed are the children of your youth. Blessed is the man whose table is like the vine that bears much fruit.” And I understand that there is a place for planning our families because we’re made in the image of God – man plans His way and God directs his steps – but let me say very, very clearly: The notion that children are a problem, the notion that children are a burden, the notion that, “Well, I’ll have enough to feel good about myself but children are not a blessing,” is an abomination to a Christian world and life view.
The Christian world and life view says, “God, thank you that you allow us to reproduce.” And when you have your children and raise them in the nurturing admonition of the Lord, that is the greatest effective way to put responsible believers into society is right out of our own homes, from our own table, families that rejoice in the church of Jesus Christ and its Gospel Message. And they’re not only in the church – the church is in their home – because Christ is in their home and Christ is the one that has given them their children. They look at their children and declare them blessed and then they raise their children to bless the name of the Lord.
Well, I can promise you Islam does not see any notion that we shouldn’t have children and so they have children. I would also suggest that our inability to reproduce new believers in Christ – those who are born again into the family of God – is directly related to the pessimistic view that we have of our own families that children are a blight upon us.
A Christian world and life view encompasses all of life – it encompasses how you see marriage, how you see the family – and when we stay defined by God’s world with our eyes fixed on Jesus, then we not only reproduce believers out of our home, we reproduce believers by reaching into the community and bringing people into our home.
CHANGING OUR HOME CAN CONVERT THE COUNTRY
And our home is united to Christ’s church, and Christ’s church is that place of hospitality. We, like Jesus, are to be a friend to sinners, but enemies of sin. We, like Jesus, are to introduce people to Him, who loves them and who will loosen them from their sins.
Let me tie this back around, Tom: Remember those missionaries who loved Jesus and loved people in their own family and beyond their family – they went to that Samoan nation and now you’ve got an entire population that affirms Christ and produces people in all arenas of life, including athletics, who enjoy life and do that life for the glory of God. We need that same missionary enterprise back into the mainline of the United States.
Oh, Church of Christ, arise. Have done with lesser things. Enjoy the families that God has given you and bring the Gospel to that family and, you as a family, bring that Gospel to our nation. You go and tell people of Jesus and, by God’s grace, we’ll see many young men and women come to Christ and rise up at the point of, when the world acclaims them, they will use that, as this quarterback did, as a platform to honor Christ.
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.