The Nones are fast becoming the largest “religious group” in the United States. In recent decades, almost a third of the people in the United States have become Nones. I put the term “religious group” in quotes. These people are loosely referred to as the Nones because they do not identify with any religious group or religious beliefs. We can truthfully tell the Nones that Jesus himself despised and overcame the very evils that disillusion them about Christianity.
An early name for followers of Jesus was “the Way”. (Acts 19:23; Acts 22:4; Acts 24:14).
Eventually, his followers became known by the name “Christians”.
The book of Acts tells us that “[t]he disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26). This church at Antioch sent the Apostle Paul on his early missionary journeys. (Acts 13:2-3; Acts 14:26-27; Acts 15:35-36,40).
I sometimes prefer to use the term “the Way” instead of the term “Christianity”.
Over the last 2,000 years, the term “Christianity” has become associated in many people’s minds with beliefs and practices that are directly opposed to the Way that Jesus lived and the Way that Jesus wants his disciples to live.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned such hypocritical “disciples”:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me . . . , ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Disillusionment with Christianity because of the hypocritical ways of such evildoers is one of the reasons for the growth of the “Nones”.
This series of blogs on “the Way” is written with the “Nones” in mind. As you may be aware, the Nones are fast becoming the largest “religious group” in the United States. In recent decades, almost a third of the people in the United States have become Nones.
I put the term “religious group” in quotes. These people are loosely referred to as the Nones because they do not identify with any religious group or religious beliefs.
Some of this drifting away from religious groups and beliefs is due to people being “too busy” for religion. This is an example of something Jesus warned us against: do not allow our lives to become unfruitful because we are choked by “worries and the deceitfulness of wealth.” (Matthew 13:22).
But much of this falling away from religious groups and beliefs is because the Nones are more familiar with bad things they’ve heard about Christianity—sexual abuse by clergy; colonialism and slavery by “Christian nations”; the bloodshed of religious wars; anti-semitism by Christians—than with good things they know about Jesus himself.
Therefore, to attract Nones who are disillusioned with Christianity, I sometimes prefer to use the name “the Way of Jesus” in order to avoid the negative and confusing connotations of the name “Christian” in the minds of these Nones.
What kinds of bad things are the Nones associating with Christianity?
Bad things that I blame on the Power of Money (slavery; degradation and abasement of the environment), the Power of Religion (religious wars; persecutions of people for their religious beliefs; degradation and abasement of women), and the Power of the Kingdoms of the World (colonialism; unceasing wars and rumors of wars).
These three “powers” correspond to the three temptations that Jesus overcame near the beginning of his public ministry. (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; my blogs “Do Not Live on ‘Bread’ Alone”, “Do Not Jump Off the Temple”, and “Do Not Seek the Kingdoms of the World and Their Authority”).
The disillusionment of the Nones because of the disobedience of Christians and Churches is similar to a complaint by the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel: the evil deeds of Ancient Israel led others to “blaspheme” the name of the LORD—to ridicule the name of the LORD because those who hypocritically claimed to follow the ways of the LORD actually disobeyed his ways. (Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 36:18-23; Romans 2:24).
The Apostle Paul paraphrased these statements of the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel when he wrote to Jewish followers of Jesus in Rome: “As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’” (Romans 2:24).
Today, we need to warn ignorant, hypocritical “disciples” of Jesus that the name “Christian” is being blasphemed and ridiculed because of THEM!!! (see my blogs “Racism Is America Gone Astray” and “Nationalism Is Patriotism Gone Astray”).
Fortunately, Jesus overcame the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of the World. (see my blog “Jesus Climbs the Temple Mount”).
We can truthfully tell the Nones that Jesus himself despised and overcame the very evils that disillusion them about Christianity.
We can truthfully tell the Nones that—if they sincerely desire to overcome worries, the deceitfulness of wealth, the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of the World—they should follow the Way of Jesus!
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT
Who do you know who is a None?
Are you actually a “None” even if you are weakly associated with a church (or other religious group) that you grew up in?
Is your life unfruitful because of worries, the deceitfulness of wealth, the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and/or the Power of the Kingdoms of the World? How? Why?
Please read my blogs referenced in this blog.