John Wesley asked the question to Oxford students, “What religion are you of”? He was convinced that very few showed any evidence of bring Christian, so he tried to move them in a Christian direction. Here is a quote from a sermon preached at Oxford.
“How few of you spend, from one week to another, a single hour in private prayer? How few have any thought of God in the general tenor of your conversations? Who of you is, in any degree, acquainted with the work of his Spirit, his supernatural work in the souls of men? Can you bear, unless now and then, in a church, any talk of the Holy Ghost? Would you not take it for granted, if one began such a conversation, that it was either hypocrisy or enthusiasm? In the name of the Lord God Almighty, I ask, what religion are you of?
I have noticed over the years how few professional church workers ever show any concern about what honors Jesus Christ in our day by day thoughts and activities. When I asked my wife what she thought of a local Presbyterian meeting I took her to, she replied that it seemed like communist meetings she had seen in Russia. I sadly agreed, for the committee and the church camp reports gave no indication that God was real and guiding us, or even remotely interested, as a matter of fact. Privately, if one discusses whether God is pleased or not with our hopes and plans, smirks or bored sighs or brush offs become common, especially among clergy. It is encouraging, at least to some extent, to see that throughout history, this has been the case so often. Certainly that was true of me when I had no intention of humbly seeking the will of God for my life. And that has been true for those who preach for the money or for some other reason than to glorify the name above all names, Jesus Christ.
Wesley asked who was “acquainted with the work of his Spirit, his supernatural work in the souls of men?” The same question is at least as relevant today in the USA as it was in England then. Christianity is first, last, and foremost, a supernatural encounter with the risen Jesus Christ and a commitment to follow him as Savior from our sin and as Lord of our life. We can memorize every Bible verse, be a kind person and even go to seminary as Stalin did, and still not be converted. Jesus says, “Ye must be born again.” We must be supernaturally dragged from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light in order to become a friend with God. Otherwise we may still have religion, but it will not be a relationship with the one who died on the cross, who has all power in heaven and in earth, and who calls all people to follow him. Since Jesus is coming back as the judge of all people, I am convinced it is a good idea to pay attention to what he says and to then to put his teachings into practice.