Summary: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” This is perhaps the most disturbing question in Scripture. It haunts me with each passing year.
“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8
This is perhaps the most disturbing question in Scripture. It haunts me with each passing year. It comes at the close of a parable encouraging faithful, persistent prayer. God answers prayer, but what if a day comes when people no longer pray or have faith? As people increasingly turn from God, I worry that this rhetorical question might come to realization. In some dystopian future there may come a day when faith is no more. This troubles me greatly.
A few countries are already there. North Korea has banned religious faith altogether. Nearby Japan has religious freedom yet ranks close to North Korea. France has the largest percentage of atheists and the lowest per capita church attendance in Europe. I’ve lived in Europe which has beautiful, empty cathedrals, and is so secular that Christians are going there as missionaries. I fear that America is in danger of becoming like Europe. Right here where I live, New England has been rated as the most spiritually indifferent part of the United States. Unbelief is rampant as people replace faith with personal comfort and various distractions (idols).
One consequence of covid is that for many church-goers, not attending worship has become the new normal, and many are not returning. This is a cause of grief for pastors who have invested their lives in their congregation, only to see large numbers depart without a word. And yes, we take it personally, but beyond this loss is an indicator of spiritual lethargy. Some have switched churches, but most have stopped church-going altogether. Were they ever genuine, committed followers of Christ? John the Apostle writes: “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going became evident they were not of us” (I John 2:19).
Besides covid, I recently read that 60% of teens walk away from church after age 15. I could blame their parents, but by 15 they are responsible for their choices and accountable for their actions. We can teach them right from wrong but we can’t make moral choices for them. We can pray for and encourage our kids but we can’t make them believe.
To get an idea of what can result from a lack of faith, let me tell you about a video I saw on YouTube. I watched a summary of a troubling movie, The Box. Here’s the premise: Someone is given a box with a button. If they push the button they’ll receive a million dollars, but someone they don’t know will die.
I posted a comment that pushing the button is equivalent to murder. I received considerable push-back in response. No one saw this as an ethical dilemma! One person said “I would slam that button as hard and as fast as I could repeatedly.” Others insisted they wouldn’t hesitate to push the button, no matter what. One said, “The button is a win. You get to kill someone and nobody will even know.” Another said they’d push the button for a pack of cigarettes. It is frightening how people make their own truth without a thought of what God might think.
We see spiritual apathy and irreverence when we try to share our faith. We’ve gotten used to people being not interested in hearing about God. Some are hostile towards religion. Some say they’ve outgrown faith, which they regard as fantasy. They’re too sophisticated to believe in God. They’ve eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge till they think themselves wise, and they condescendingly reject God and His word. They are proud of their unbelief, as they bow before the altar of self. Tim Keller warns, “Idolatry is not just a failure to obey God, it is a setting of the whole heart on something besides God… Idols are anything we look to for that which only God can give.”
To see where we may be headed, we need to be reminded of where we’ve been. We’ve gone from full, vibrant churches to churches on life support. America has changed. Francis Schaeffer said “Think of practices accepted today which were condemned as immoral ten years ago…what things considered sin today may be acceptable ten years from now?” Also notice how attitudes progress: Societies go from practicing sin, to excusing it, to defending it, to celebrating it, then condemning any who call it sin. Our counter-cultural faith insists that a sin, even if committed by many, remains a sin. This makes us appear to be hateful. We don’t hate people; we accept them, though we can’t affirm their choices.
“Will He find faith?” What is faith? Faith is patient trust in the unseen power of God based on His word. Faith is the opening of an inward eye--the eye of the heart--to be filled with the presence of Divine light, responding in obedience. And faith is precious to God. He won’t be looking at our abilities or accomplishments, but our faith. Let faith have a home in our hearts, even if it is denied a home everywhere else!