The Spiritual State of the Union

A Gallup Poll of 1,509 adults was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society to examine “The Spiritual State of the Union.”  It produced some interesting results.

Seventy-two percent of those surveyed say their lives have meaning and purpose because of faith, yet many admit there is a gap between what they believe and how they act.  The survey indicates over a ten percent gap between the average score for respondents’ “inner commitment” (people's connection with God, a higher power, or divine will) and their “outer commitment” (how they live out their inner commitment through service to others, their community, and society in general).  Can you ever relate to that discrepancy?  As Christians, is our real problem knowing and believing how we need to live, or is it more doing what we know and believe?  As James wrote, we must “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves” (James 1:22).  The one who only hears is deceived and doomed (Matt. 7:24-27), while the one who hears and does is blessed (James 1:25).  For our religion to be useful, it must be put into action (:26).  Belief alone does not profit us (2:14-26).

Also, seventy-seven percent of respondents said that they “agree completely that the overall health of the nation depends a great deal on the spiritual health of the nation.”  It is good to know that so many acknowledge what God has already told us.  Proverbs 14:34 states, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”  We have seen the truth of this statement played out time and again in the history of the world.  Various nations have risen in power, but their sinful ways led to their downfall.  “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).

The poll also revealed that the majority of respondents believe that “life has meaning and purpose because of faith” (seventy-two percent) and that “faith is involved in every aspect of life” (sixty percent).  How true this must be for us as Christians.  We are to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), meaning that we have enough faith in God to allow Him to direct every step we make in life.  “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Eccl. 12:13).

The poll defined spirituality as “including belief in God or a higher power or just seeking to be a good person and reach their fullest human potential.”  “Even the demons believe—and tremble” (James 2:19), so they could be considered spiritual by this definition.  Many people seek to be good, but they measure goodness by their own standard.  If we want to be spiritual in a way that is according to God, then we must act on our belief in Him and strive to live up to His standard for what makes us good.  Only then will we reach our fullest potential and be pleasing to Him.