Ok, God – What’s In It For Us?

· Personal Investigations

Abstract

For some time now, it has been a bother to me that so much mainstream Christianity has seemingly become a self-serving practice. I read and hear how we can better ourselves and build up our fellow man, all in the name of God, yet the focus seems to be so much on humanity that God seems to have been left out of the picture apart from an occasional mention. So seeing that problem, I did what I do best – I took a simple survey and performed a data analysis in order to quantitatively see where the focus of mainstream Christianity lies.
I took an 18 hour sample of inspirational/proverbial statuses from Twitter (‘tweets’) and counted the frequency of occurrence of certain Christian-related words as well as directional related statements (as toward worshipping/understanding God vs toward lifting up the fellow man). The results were quite disturbing. I found that singular references to ourselves or mankind outnumbered by more than twice the combined number of all other references, including the names ‘God’ and ‘Jesus,’ sin, faith, thanks, forgiveness, joy, Godly, and praise.

Methods

For the first part of this analysis, I took a simple survey of ‘tweets’ from my Twitter timeline over a period of ~ 18 hours. My newsfeed consists of a diverse sample of Christian individuals and organizations across the United States. The survey consisted only of those tweets which were of an inspirational or proverbial intent. I omitted tweets that were simply quotes of Scripture because this analysis is for the purpose of determining the posters’ thoughts rather than determining the purpose of Scripture. Also, in order to eliminate self-induced bias, I omitted my own tweets during this period. Advertisement and informative tweets were also omitted. Once I had a viable list of inspirational tweets, I recorded the frequency of occurrence for certain Christian-related words, listed below in Results. Of note, references to self (humanity) are listed mostly as pronouns – I, me, we, us, you, etc. I determined which of these usages were directed toward ‘self’ and included only those which did not reference God. I converted the histogram of these words into a percentage of occurrence and graphed the results for a visual analysis. In addition, I recorded the number of inspirational tweets which were directed (generally) toward God (as worship, thanks, admiration, seeking, etc.) and those which were directed toward humans (as encouragement, endorsement, etc.). I again converted the histogram of this data into a percentage of occurrence and graphed the results.

Results

Figure 1. Percent occurrences of selected words in this survey.

The results for this analysis consists of two parts. The results from the first part of this analysis are shown in Figure 1. The frequency of occurrence for these words clearly shows preeminence of references to self, which occurred with more than twice the frequency (54.1%) of all other words combined. A very distant following were the names of ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’ (7.2% and 4.5%, respectively) and the words ‘success’ (3.6%), ‘thanks’ and ‘change’ (both 2.7%). All remaining words, including key Christian concepts such as faith, love, joy, praise, worship, Christ, sin, and forgiveness, all had a frequency of less than 2%.

The results for the second part of this analysis are shown in Figure 2. The frequency of occurrence of the statements directed toward humanity (mostly as encouragement and edification) was 4 times that of the occurrence of those directed toward God (as worship, thanksgiving, seeking, etc.) and resulted in a 80% to 20% split, respectively.

Discussion

Figure 2

Figure 2. Percent occurrence of statements which were directed toward men and toward God.

There are some additional considerations concerning this data. Obviously, Twitter does not represent all Christians, so this sample may not accurately represent Christian thoughts at large. Twitter does, however, represent much of the younger Christian generation who find the practice of networking to come more naturally than do the older generations. Also, those Christian individuals and organizations I follow on Twitter may not be representative of all Christians who use Twitter. After doing searches on these keywords beyond my own timeline, however, I do believe that the trend is consistent enough to give a generalized idea. Lastly, an 18 hour survey may not accurately represent the Twitter Christian population, but again, I believe it is enough to give a good idea of where things are heading.

Even though I suspected before doing these analyses that something was out of order in what I was reading, I did not expect such one-sided results. I would expect that Christian thoughts would be more toward humanity than toward God simply because a survey of proverbial Scriptures (such as the books of Psalms and Proverbs) would reveal the same humanly empathic trend.

These results, however, are of a disturbingly disproportionate occurrence. It certainly is not wrong to want to help, love, or build up our fellow man, and indeed we are instructed to do so in the Scriptures. But are we not to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? Are we to forget the Creator in favor of Creation? As Christians, we have subtly grown into a humanistic philosophy of loving and building each other up to the point that we do so without saying why, and often, I suspect, without even thinking aboutwhy. We seek God simply because we believe that is the best way to lead our lives, bettering ourselves and our fellow man. Seeking God simply because He is worthy, for His own merit, is becoming a forgotten ideal. Truth stands on the rooftops announcing the Great Mysteries of God Himself, and all we can think about is how we can build up humanity, all in the name of, and for the sake of, the God we have forsaken in the process.

Why am I a Christian? Why are you? Is it to better ourselves? To build up humanity? Or is it to seek out the greatness of our Creator who has torn open the Holy of Holies and welcomed us to come and dine with Him?

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