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We are in the Season after the Epiphany.  Epiphany means manifestation.  It is the time we celebrate the revealing or revelation of Jesus on earth in the Christ child – Emmanuel, God with us (Matt 1:23), and all the ways Jesus continues to reveal himself to the world.  Through Jesus’ baptism, God reveals Jesus as his beloved Son with whom God is well pleased (Matt 3:17).  Through the divine testimony of John the Baptist, Jesus is revealed as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).  Through the fulfillment of Scripture, Jesus is revealed as God’s redeeming Light in a dark world (Matt 4:14-16; John 1:5, 8:12, 12:46).  The Season after the Epiphany establishes Jesus’ identity to the world.  The question is what will the world do with this revelation from God?

I am still thinking about the research from the Barna Group that I talked about in a sermon a few weeks ago.  The Barna Research Group developed a metric to measure the changing religious landscape of American culture.  They call is the Post-Christian Metric.  To qualify as “post-Christian” individuals must meet nine or more of the Barna Group’s criteria which identify a lack of Christian identity.  The Barna Group says this will reveal an individual’s identity more accurately than clicking the “Christian” box on the census report you will receive this year.  We all know that the term “Christian” is a pretty broad term these days and pretty much only means a person believes in Jesus – to which the devil even fits in that category.  Therefore, I decided to list the 16 criteria from the Barna Group.  This way, each of us can see how close, or not, we are to being considered a post-Christian.

The Barna Group says, “To qualify as ‘post-Christian,’ individuals had to meet nine or more of the following factors. ‘Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 13 or more of the factors (out of these 16 criteria).” [1] Do not believe in God  [2] Identify as atheist or agnostic  [3] Disagree that faith is important in their lives  [4] Have not prayed to God (in the last week)  [5] Have never made a commitment to Jesus  [6] Disagree the Bible is accurate  [7] Have not donated money to a church (in the last 6 months)  [8] Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months)  [9] Agree that Jesus committed sins  [10] Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”  [11] Have not read the Bible (in the last week)  [12] Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)  [13] Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)  [14] Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)  [15] Bible engagement scale: low (have not read the Bible in the past week and disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate)  [16] Not Born Again.

Well, how did you do?  According to the Barna Group, just exactly what percent “Christian” are we?  As Jesus continues to reveal himself to us during the Season after the Epiphany and beyond, may our identity become more in Jesus and less in the world.

Your Pastor & Friend, Harrell   

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