Here is a link to a Knoxville News-Sentinel article about the decline in baptisms for the Southern Baptist Convention – http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/apr/25/southern-baptist-membership-baptisms-decline-2007/.
In looking at the article and comments that follow, it is easy to come up with a conclusion that it must be the fault of the Christians. It must be because we do not do a good enough job of living out what we claim to believe. I agree with this to a point–so much so that I wrote a column in the paper about it last year. Here is the link: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2007/jun/10/an-apology/. I received a lot of feedback after this column and enjoyed corresponding with those who agreed and disagreed.
But, there is another reason that has little to do with how believers behave. Jesus tells us that if He is lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself. When He said this it indicated Him being hung on a cross. It also indicates that if we lift Him in our lives that people will be drawn to Him. However, there are no promises that everyone will believe or stay with Him.
During Jesus’ ministry, He continually spoke truth, some of it being considered “hard truths.” Occassionally, after hearing these hard truths, people who followed Him stopped and left to go back to their homes. The message that Jesus is the only way is divisive and causes many to reject Jesus and in turn reject those that follow Him.
Truthfully, we shouldn’t be surprised when the Gospel is rejected. We live in an era where there are numerous defenses readily available to anyone who wants to justify their beliefs and reject Jesus. What would should be amazed at is that there are still people who become followers of Jesus. He still saves and it is still a miracle when someone gives over their will to His will.
Those of us who believe in Jesus and have put our trust in Him need to be sincere followers of Him. However, even when we do this there will be those who will reject the message that could set them free. All we can do is try to emulate Jesus as closely as possible and allow Him to do the work of drawing people to the truth of who He is.