Recently, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life ranked Oklahoma as the seventh most religious state in America (News, Greg Horton, "Holy Okies," Jan. 27, Gazette) with 69 percent of Oklahomans stating that religion is very important in their lives.
This news is both wonderful and quite troubling. Wonderful in that the tenets of Christianity are widely accepted and mostly understood. It is troubling because Christianity is rarely implemented, resulting in transformed lives. Non-believers near and far see our high teen pregnancy rates, rampant drug abuse, failed marriages and overabundant materialism and wonder if this Jesus really matters?
Truth be told, these statistical facts of Oklahoma are not an indictment of Christ but of us, his Christians. These statistics should be a reminder that it is not religion that transforms but the relationship.
For far too long us Christians have been relying on our religious activities of good works, church attendance and the purist of the prosperity Gospel as substitutes for the real thing. We can be religious all day long and really not know him; and knowing him is what leads to a transformed life. To know Jesus starts with first recognizing who we are; and that is sinners desperately needing consistent reliance on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. And finally, knowing him ends not with religion but by wholly leaning on Jesus' name.
"Phillip W. Smith