Are you surprised to learn that Hinduism is the second-largest religion in Arizona? Or that Islam is the second-largest religion in Mississippi? Or that Baha'i is the second-largest religion in South Carolina?
However, these stats can be misleading. While Arizona is home to 32,887 Hindus, they are vastly outnumbered by the state's 2,291,026 Christians. Muslims comprise 0.17 percent of the population in Mississippi, while Christians make up 57 percent. Baha'i comprise 0.49 percent of South Carolina's population, while Christians make up 56 percent.
Here's another number that made headlines recently: the number of Muslims in America has exploded from 1.6 million to as many as seven million. At this rate, one writer predicts, "America's future belongs to Islam."
Not so fast. According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the projected Muslim population of America will grow to nearly 11 million by 2030. But this is only a jump from 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent. By comparison, Christians today comprise 73 percent of the American population.
The global Muslim population will grow to 26.4 percent of the world in 2030, still far behind Christianity's 33 percent. And most statistics don't count the explosive Christian growth happening in Muslim and Communist countries, where church attendance numbers are not available.
By 2030, China is predicted to become the world's largest Christian nation, with nearly 250 million followers of Jesus. Christians will comprise 51 percent of Africa, outpacing Islam at 42 percent. And the predicted dominance of atheism is not happening—those around the world who hold religious beliefs have grown from 80.8 percent in 1970 to 88.4 percent today, and will be over 90 percent by 2030.
Does this mean that Christians can grow complacent? Absolutely not. A third of America's young adults express no religious commitment. If current trends continue, the number of non-believers in Great Britain will overtake the number of Christians there by 2030. It is vital that believers pray for spiritual awakening and share our faith in every way we can.
But the trends do show that God's Kingdom is still advancing around the world. More people are coming to faith in Jesus today than ever before in history. More Muslims have become Christians in the last 15 years than in the previous 15 centuries. Jesus is still "the true light, which gives light to everyone" (John 1:9). From his crucifixion to today, he has been drawing all people to himself (John 12:32-33). One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).
So don't be discouraged. If you follow Jesus, you're on the right side. Claim God's word: "Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9). This is the promise, and the invitation, of God.
Publication date: August 29, 2014
Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others?
Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.