Summary: The world is rapidly changing. Among those changes are people’s views toward religion. While it used to be choice between Methodist, Baptist, Christian Church, etc., people now find themselves trying to decide between Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO HEAVEN–RIGHT?
ILL> A stranger entered the church service in the middle of the sermon and seated himself in the back pew. After a while he began to fidget. Leaning over to a white-haired man at his side, evidently an old member of the congregation, he whispered:
"How long has he been preaching?"
"Thirty or forty years, I think," the old man answered.
"I’ll stay then," decided the stranger, "He must be nearly done."
I don’t plan to speak long this morning, but if God has a different plan I’ll follow His lead. This morning I want to focus in on our ever changing world–a world that is changing faster than ever before. Before I go on I thought it would be a good idea to check something (open fortune cookie and read it)
How many of you have eaten at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant or carry-out in the past year? If I would have asked that same question 15 years ago, how many of you would have raised your hand? Who would have thought when we moved here in 1990 that someday Mt. Gilead would have its own Chinese carry-out? Changes are taking place everywhere–even in our own little community
One of the things that has changed is the misconception that all roads lead to heaven. For years people have been saying, "It really doesn’t matter what you believe, after all, we’re all going to the same place!" Now 15 or 20 years ago what people meant was that it didn’t make any difference whether you claimed to be Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, or Church of Christ, it didn’t make any difference what you believed. However, that statement carries with it a whole new idea these days. Today when people say, "It really doesn’t make any difference what you believe..." they are saying that it doesn’t make a difference if you’re a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, or whatever as long as you believe in something. The world is changing–has changed.
ILL> From “The Emerging Church,” by Dan Kimball
On a beautiful Fourth of July afternoon. We gathered at my in-laws’ house for a picnic. The American flag proudly waved in the breeze above picnic tables decked with red-checkered tablecloths. Even the paper plates, cups, and napkins bore American flags. We looked like a Norman Rockwell painting. As mealtime approached, my father-in-law led us in a wonderful prayer thanking God for our freedom. He then closed with a statement something like, "And thank you, Lord, for making us a Christian nation. Amen."
From my father-in-law’s perspective, this was a true statement. After all, America has been considered a Christian nation for most of his adult life, and most of his friends are Christian. But I’ve thought back on the closing of that prayer many times, and I no longer believe it reflects our nation today.
QUOTE> From “Lost in America,” by Tom Clegg and Warren Bird
"The unchurched population in the United States is so extensive that, if it were a nation, it would be the fifth most populated nation on the planet after China, the former Soviet Union, India, and Brazil. Thus, our unchurched population is the largest mission field in the English-speaking world and the fifth largest globally."