Why are many Western people so hard to reach with the gospel?A couple of weeks ago I was trying to explain some of the basic tenets of our faith to someone with almost zero understanding of the Bible or of Christianity. I came to the concept of pride, and how it is one of the things God hates. Unsurprisingly, this very, very smart and educated young man was curious why God would care if he was proud of an accomplishment or his kids.
I think I was probably in my 40's before I understood this, and in my 60's before I really wrapped my arms around it. Maybe you are way ahead of me, but if so, just don't be proud of that fact. My understanding is that while God does give us some minor push back on the kind of pride my friend was thinking of, the type of pride that God hates is one that states: "I don't need God."
This kind of pride is individual and cultural at the same time. This type of pride takes many forms, but the most prevalent might be the following:
- Have plenty of everything I need and most of what I want
- Medicine is excellent and will eventually cure every disease and handicap
- Science explains everything or will soon
- Heaven doesn't sound better than what I have now
- I am not suffering or needy, and man should be able to wipe out poverty and suffering soon
Have plenty of everything I need and most of what I wantIt is cliche to state that even the working poor in most Western societies have more luxuries than kings of just a century ago. They have more food more choices of food; can travel further, faster; have vastly better educational options; generally have plenty of very secure living space; and have entertainment that couldn't have been imagined. Material possessions don't give us deep satisfaction, but not having those things can create more of a need for God. Have way more than enough dries up the need for God.
Medicine is excellent and will eventually cure every disease and handicapTranshumanism is a trending topic. We can now print out living tissue and create skin, livers, and more. We have technologies that allow us to tinker with the genetic makeup of the cells that will create a future human. The picture above is a human created eye that may soon be able to give sight to many who have never seen. And later this year an Italian surgeon will transplant a perfect good head onto a donated body to replace his diseased body. Will we get to a time when we will live for hundreds of years due to advances in science. Such advances create questions about why we need God, if many can do these amazing things.
Science explains everything or will soonMost humans are somewhat or very curious about their origins, their purpose, and their destiny after death. God provides these answers very clearly in the Bible. But science believes that they know the origin of the universe, the evolution of man, have no concern about what, if any purpose their is to human life, and assume there is no life after death. End of story, case closed. Agnostics say these things are unknowable. Many scientists say they have no need for any more of an understanding of these issues, and that science will ultimately uncover whatever process there is to life.
Heaven doesn't sound better than what I have nowThe hope of heaven was a fantastic lure to draw people to God, what with mansions, pearly gates, gold paved roads, and perfect bodies. But in the 21st century, the average citizen is fat, dumb, and happy with his or her daily existence. "Just provide me a decent job, a six pack and my TV at the end of the day, and some diversion on the weekend, and I'm good." With very little fear of war or famine, and an unlimited supply of cheap entertainment, most have no inspiration to go to heaven. Most have no inspiration to go to Maui!!
I am not suffering or needy, and man should be able to wipe out poverty and suffering soon“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Henry David Thoreau. I think this may have been more true of Westerners until the 1950's. And while everyone I know has had days, weeks, or even years when this might apply, most folks think they are doing just fine, thank you. Now some say that heaven sounds boring by comparison.
The moral of the story seems to be that many are buying into the idea that man can do just fine without God, prayer, or heaven. This is pride...the kind God hates. It was the pride of Cain, of the folks in Babel, and of Nebuchadnezzar. It is the pride that is hardening hearts against the Gospel in the developed world.