For as long as I can remember, I have been using a belt to hold up my pants. I live in what is called the “Bible belt”. Someone I know recently made a comment on social media about this, so I asked myself the question “What is the Bible Belt holding up?” What is it supporting or containing?
Before I answer this question, I want to make it clear that I do not believe this to be the Bible Belt anymore. My answers will tell you why. In 8 years of living in this part of South Carolina, I have seen a major transformation in the religious climate. What I observed as a refreshing area where a move of God was taking place has become an oppressed area where people have settled for defeat and have given up on the faith. Why is this? Here are my observations on what the “Bible Belt” is holding up in 2017.
- Holding up tradition over what the Bible truly says. People will argue over Bible versions, worship styles, church building designs and furniture, committee structure, and how money is held before they would ever speak up against false teaching.
- Holding up emotionalism over truth. People will flock to what feels good before they will run to what they need.
- Holding up bad doctrine because they never searched the Scriptures for themselves. I often tell those who hear me preach to not take my word to the bank. Dig in the Bible for yourself. Just because your great-grandpappy cried while he told you that cleanliness is next to godliness is in the Bible doesn’t make him right. It’s not in the Bible although it’s good hygiene.
- Holding up the cult of personality above the Lord Jesus Christ. We have so many today who will go to the ends of the earth for a popular preacher and wouldn’t walk two steps for Jesus. Maybe that’s why the “Bible Belt” has more church splits than intentional new church starts/plants.
- Holding up conformity rather than transformation. I believe the #1 reason people walk away from the church is they get tired of faking who they are for fear of judgment. I’ve seen people pretend to be against alcohol “at church” and go buy a case of beer on their way home. Don’t lie in a fancy building about your stance on alcohol when you really believe it’s okay to drink. Conformity is really hypocrisy. We need to let God change us. If you and I really want to be like Jesus, God will transform us through His Word and by His Spirit.
I am not an advocate of going to church because it’s the good Southern thing to do, good for political reasons, looks good in an obituary, or is just what you’ve always done. It’s about a relationship with Jesus Christ that is rooted in the Bible! So let’s stop being Bible-Beltish and start being Bible-based.