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Activist Faith

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A new Barna Group study is receiving attention for noting Generation Z–today’s 13-18-year-olds–are twice as likely to identify as atheist or LGBT. However, another aspect of the story reported by Christianity Today notes another concern:

One out of five teens in the Barna study imagine Christianity as negative and judgmental. Some of the biggest barriers to belief are the problem of evil (29%), perceived hypocrisy among Christians (23%), and the conflict between science and Scripture (20%).

Of these three issues, the first two are directly tied to Generation Z experiencing authentic faith. This is especially true of the belief that “Christians are hypocrites.” What can be done to improve this negative perception of Christianity?

Ezra 7:10 offers biblical wisdom to address this issue. He wrote 2,400 years ago: “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” His words offers three areas of help.

Personally Investigate Your Faith

Ezra’s life was based on his personal experience with Scripture. It was not only his personal experience. It was not only Scripture. It was his life interacting with Scripture.

This began for me at the age of 17. I started reading the Bible for myself as I returned to the faith of my childhood after a rough period.

I had heard the stories, but it was only when I began to read the words for myself that my life experienced transformation.

Personally Live Your Faith

Jesus often condemned the religious leaders of his time for knowing Scripture but not living it. The same can often be said of today’s American Christians. The best defense against the accusation of hypocrisy is personal application of the truth.

We are to read it, but we also must apply it. As others have noted, you are the only Bible many people will ever read.

Personally Communicate Your Faith

When we read and live our faith, we can then effectively communicate it with others. We don’t only say, “Because the Bible says so.” We can talk about the ways God is working in our own life as we study Scripture and seek to practice it.

Maybe the reason there as so few people who imitate Ezra’s practices is because the requirement is difficult. It’s easier to live however we wish and then occasionally attend church or do something spiritual. However, if we really seek to be changed by God and make a difference in the lives of others, more is required.

Many people look to Mother Teresa as a godly woman who cared for the poor and sick. However, her spiritual practices are often overlooked. She prayed and read Scripture daily. It was from her personal growth she could demonstrate love the way she did.

Let’s take up the challenge to study, live, and communicate faith. It not only matters for our lives, but for those of the generations to follow.

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Dr. Dillon Burroughs is one of America’s top communicators on today’s Christian issues. He serves as senior writer of The John Ankerberg Show and is author or coauthor of nearly 40 books. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He lives with his wife and three children in Tennessee.

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