Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Will He Find Faith?

I don't often wax preachy here, but occasionally, I feel compelled to pontificate on a topic that has been on my mind.
The posting of some thoughts on another blog got me to thinking about my past ruminations on a subject.

Luke 18:8 reads: I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?

The context of this verse is the parable of the Unjust Judge.
The point of the story is that the constant, repeated request of a poor widow was finally granted by a judge who had no reason to consider the request, simply because of her persistence.
The point of the last verse is, even though requests of those who ask God for something may not be answered quickly, they will be answered.
In spite of this ("Nevertheless"), some will stop believing in the promises of God because of the delay.
Hence, the question, will Christ find faith on the earth when he returns.

The Greek word translated "faith" is "Pistis".
This word is translated "faith" every time it is found in the New Testament.(and it is found dozens of times.)
"Pistis" means persuasion, credence (acceptance of certain precepts as true), moral conviction, reliance on Christ for salvation, or constancy or faithfulness.

In these last days, and especially in the last couple of years, I have pondered this concept more and more.
It seems that the decline of "religion" in the U.S., and especially essential Christianity - meaning, belief in the Bible strong enough that it affects one's behavior (read: holiness) - in the last few years, has caused a fundamental shift in the general moral level of society as a whole.
It is like we have reached a critical mass of immorality or moral relativism.

As a result, the policies of our government are now changing.
In totalitarian governments/societies, the policies of the government may or may not reflect the values of the people/society they rule over.
In democratic governments/societies, the policies of the government generally do reflect the general moral values of the people/society they represent.
So, as I see the policies of our government change, I see it as a reflection of the values of our society as a whole.

And as our society becomes more secular, earthly-minded, given to more physical gratification, and carnal - even among so-called Christians, I wonder just how many people are really saved.
Only God knows.
I have long ago stopped trying to figure out who is "saved" and who is not, in the way that I used to.
That was a preoccupation of my former religious fellowship.

Generally, I now accept the testimony of each person at face value.
If they say they are saved, I usually accept them as such.
I can find something "wrong" with almost anyone who professes Christianity, but I cannot be sure that God does not accept them because of such flaws or shortcomings.
They may have overcome some issues/battles/sins way greater than what I have had to deal with, and God has not yet inspired them to work on the issue that I see in them.
Who am I to make such a judgment?
God truly knows who are his; I do not - and never will in this life.

So I now err on the side of acceptance.
If I am wrong, what have I lost?
The command for me is to encourage and build up, not to judge.
But I digress....

As the Revelation says, "Babylon is fallen..."
And the casual, ho-hum, sloppy "Christianity" that I see in most people who call themselves Christian these days is bothersome to me.
Most people can only bring themselves to attend one church service a week - Sunday morning worship.
They are too busy to get up for Sunday School, too busy to attend Sunday evening worship meetings, or mid-week gatherings.
They toss a few dollars in the passing plate, smile and say nice things to others around them, gladhand everyone nearby, listen to the preacher with half an ear (as long as he doesn't take too long), then blast off.

Do they pray every day for the disintegrating moral conditions around them (read: sinners)?
Probably not.
Do they read their Bible every day to constantly recalibrate their personal moral compass to offset the persistent intrusion of secular, humanistic, atheistic, fleshly, earthly concepts and ideas that surround them at school or work or from friends or neighbors or television or radio?
Probably not.
If they did, they would behave differently, methinks.

So, back to the question at the beginning (you thought I forgot, didn't you?), will Jesus find faith when He returns?
The answer is, yes.
But it will not be found in as many people as some might think.
It will be found in those who have resisted the general amoral tide around them, and fought to maintain the spiritual values and behavior the Bible commands.
It will be found in those who have importuned before - not an unjust judge - but a loving, holy God who, while loving each of, and all of, mankind, is still unmovabley righteous.

Christianity is still a pretty simple exercise - do what God's book says and you will be okay.
The Babylon in the book of Revelation is not just a physical location, like a church.
It can be that, but it is more.
It is a state of mind, a spiritual perspective, where obedience to the Bible is less important than going along with the crowd, "getting along" in spite of compromising moral principles, and spiritually sloppy, undisciplined living.
If what the preacher (or the television, or radio, or a neighbor, or the kids at school) says has more weight for you than the scriptures, then you are "in" Babylon.
God says, "Come out of her my people."

In God we trust.

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