“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 on that day, ‘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)
"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." (Matthew 15:8)
Today’s call for prayer from the Operation World website was an eye-opener. The organization estimates that of the 6.9 Billion people who live on the earth, 2.2 Billion call themselves Christians and only 7.9% Evangelicals! Let that sink in for a second.
By Operation World's definition a “Christian” is “anyone who professes to be a Christian," but an evangelical is one “who emphasize(s) and adhere(s) to all four of the following:
- The Lord Jesus Christ as the sole source of salvation through faith in Him, as validated by His crucifixion and resurrection.
- Personal faith and conversion with regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
- Recognition of the inspired Word of God as the ultimate basis and authority for faith and Christian living.
- Commitment to biblical witness, evangelism and mission that brings others to faith in Christ. “
In other words, according to Operation World, 2.2 Billion where the name “followers of Christ,” yet only 545 Million (a large number but only 7.9% of the worlds population) actually espouse the requirements set forth by the one a Christian claims to follow!
I find these statistics staggering but they make sense if one looks at the prayer challenge for today and considers the state of the world in 2013. Operation World calls the 7.9% who, by the numbers, would be the most likely to consider intercessory prayer, to pray that God would remove “the insidious power of international crime empires.”
“Globalization probably benefits the wicked and corrupt as much as, if not more than, those with good intentions. Some of these are the US mafia, the Colombian drug cartels, Chinese Triads, Japanese yakuza, Jamaican yardies, Russian Bratva, the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, Sicilian Cosa Nostra, Neapolitan Camorra and many others.
- Drug networks link the largest growers (Andean republics, Central Asia, the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia) with the largest users (the West, China, India).
- Smuggling of contraband ranges from cigarettes and alcohol, to antiques and art, to live animals and weapons and firearms.
- Money laundering on a massive scale.
- Control and extortion of politicians and business and industry leaders as well as their influence over entire economies.”
Again, considering the statistics, how many who operate within these international crime organizations and drug networks count themselves among the 2.2 Billion Christians.
Further, according to the website adherents.com, as of 2006 (109th Congress) the overwhelming majority (approximately 90%) were classified by “religious affiliation,” as Christians. Given the state of our country as we begin 2013, how many of America's leaders are among the “controlled,” through their own greed or some other lapse in judgment. While this writer understands we all are sinners, the number of decisions that seem lately to flow form an institution where 90% claim Jesus as Lord, are difficult to reconcile against professed Christian beliefs. Only God knows our hearts.
That said, let us pray for a change of heart in the 90% that more closely resembles what the 7.9% represents.
Prayer: Father, help us. We have sinned and lost our way. We say we are Christ followers yet our lives and our actions do not align with Jesus' example. We stand in agreement for an end to corruption, and violence caused by organized crime and white collar criminals. Father, expose the “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” who walk among us and bring dishonor to your name. Increase the real numbers of bible believing, God honoring, followers of Jesus Christ around the world. Fill us with the power of the Holy Spirit that we may go into all the world and proclaim the gospel and make disciples who follow your precepts and lead lives that honor You. In Jesus name I pray.