In 2015, Muslim pilgrims in Mecca were caught in a human stampede and thousands were killed. The Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, is a requirement for all Muslims. A devout Muslim should do the Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once. Now, squeezing millions into a small place in the desert, for a few days, and keeping things traditional, is becoming impossible.
When things go wrong with the Hajj, thousands die in the stampedes and governments almost go to war. Now the lunar cycle for setting the date has come to the hot desert summer, and it will stay on the summer for a decade. Management of the Hajj has become a crisis. Believers must go, but it’s so hard.
I remember when I was in High School, my church told me to “win my friends for Christ.” I looked at my school friends and I didn’t see any way to make that happen. At church we had music with a piano and organ, and a strict Sunday schedule, and so much more. We had a subculture. If my friends wanted to follow Jesus, they had to adapt to an alien culture; they couldn’t just make a simple decision about Jesus. I still know three different ways to knot a tie.
Logistically, my religion didn’t work. There is a theory that traditional Sunday hours for church services were set in country places, and fit around the chores for dairy farmers. They had to milk the cows before taking their families to church.
Religion has a lot of baggage.
Now the world is changing. People live in cities and the world population is seven and a half billion and growing, with low infant mortality. We know that cultures stayed conservative when grandparents influenced the children.
In villages, old people cared for children while the parents worked and those children grew up with very old fashioned ideas. Now we have billions who are raised by television and the Internet, with almost no influence from older generations.
I’m a grandfather, and my grandchildren live two hours away. They know I care, but I don’t pass on my values with those five-minute phone calls.
The world is changing, and most religion can’t keep up. Islam has 1.6 billion followers, and all the trends apply. The younger generation will soon be the majority, without the old ways; and conservative Islam has baggage like my home church. A British journalist wrote about the crisis in Islam, in 2015, and the problem is growing.
The logistics of old-time religion are breaking down everywhere. I’m sure Buddhists and Hindus have their own stories. This is not just an interesting talking point. Most wars are inspired by religion, and the stress is growing. The world is changing under our feet.
There are two possibilities for Christianity; die or get back to simple faith in Jesus. Our pile of baggage is too heavy. Two thousand years ago, Jesus cut through the burden of religion and politics like a knife. He was crucified for wrecking the party, but his church continued his story. Now the old time structures of Jesus’ time are gone and forgotten, and more than two billion claim to follow Jesus.
I believe that two billion is only a start.
My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!’ “For thus says the Lord of hosts, Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. ‘I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. (Haggai 2: 5, 6, & 7)
God is still in business and I believe he is the author of the revolution we are living through. In our new world, billions of people are open to Jesus; and the only thing that holds us back is us. Religion doesn’t work anymore, but Jesus still has the power.
When they saw Him, they worshiped Him, but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:17 to 19)