Who exactly are the “Nones?” If you’re not familiar with the categorization of Nones, it is simply those who choose to have no religious affiliation with any group. The Nones are rapidly growing and, according to recent studies and surveys, this group is now the largest religious group in the United States. I know, I know. I see the irony in that too.
I was listening to a video recently where the speaker had a slightly different perspective on what is happening with the Nones, the church, and atheism. Christianity is battling it out with the evil empire in Atheism. There’s no shocker there. There is a spiritual battle that has been going on since the beginning. The church is continuing its fervent, unrelenting stance that there is one God, Jesus is the only way to salvation, and all this is confirmed in the unchanging, reliable word of God. But what appears to be taking place is: while Christians and Atheists are drawing their lines in the sand and making their appeals as to why their views are true, the Nones have drifted away from either side. So what we have is this ever-increasing group of people who have no home.
I have to admit that this excites me! I’m not excited that there are lost people, or that the world doesn’t seem to know right from wrong, or red from green. What I am excited about is that there is a need and we as Christians can fill it. Think about this group of wandering people again. They are lost; they have questions, and (from my experience) they’re not afraid to state their beliefs. So it’s great that we get into this battle and stand up against Atheism and make a strong case that there is a God and that what we believe and the Bible is true. I love apologetics. It is a great passion of mine. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” But here’s what I would offer as a caveat: let’s not just offer a well-polished, impenetrable apology from the stage, or from our screens on social media. We must enter into those relationships with people who believe differently, who have questions, and who may challenge everything we say. I don’t necessarily think the Nones are opposed to Jesus and the truth. In fact, I believe they are ready to talk and be befriended. We just have to take the time. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m certainly not saying you’ll be free of frustrations. There are times when I leave a conversation needing a punching bag to take out my frustrations. “Why don’t you just get this?!”
But then I’m always reminded from scripture to have patience. After all, it is a virtue. So I say let’s be prepared in those times to give an answer for the truth. Follow Colossians 4:5-6 which says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” They are lost. They are out there on their own, with no one leading them. They have questions. I believe they are ready and waiting for us to enter into a conversation—a relationship with them. So don’t give up on trying to reach them. Let the encouraging and God-inspired words of Galatians 6:9 reverberate in our minds as we prepare to step out. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”