Jesus asked a question with profound implications for each of us: "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" Faith is growing increasingly rare in our secularized society. How can you have living faith?
"When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke:18:8).
Our world is experiencing a crisis of faith. Few people place much faith in the future. Many have no faith their marriages will survive, that political leaders will honorably serve their country or that education will prepare them adequately for the challenges ahead. Faced with the difficulties of everyday life, many people simply have no confidence that they will see a better tomorrow.
In a burned-out, tuned-out and turned-off world, sentiments like "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer" and "Nothing ever turns out right" clutter our thinking.
At the same time, many people view the values and promises of the Bible as judgmental and archaic. The popular approach is to accept and validate all opinions, no matter what they are. But the same people don't realize that such an approach inevitably produces doubt, which undermines faith. We may not deny the existence of God, but, because of the materialism, humanism and moral relativism of the world around us, we convince ourselves that God is not involved in human affairs. We see through a prism that leaves God out of the picture.
Even for professing Christians, religion is often superficial. Many lack a basic knowledge of the teachings of the Bible or their denomination's beliefs. Far too many have come to believe that every aspect of life is simply a matter of personal choice and that nothing matters beyond their feelings. Instead of relying on God, they trust only themselves to solve their problems. Then, because emotions are so subjective, people are left confused and grasping for anything that offers hope.
Pollster George Barna commented on America's Christianity: "I am quite confident you will agree that Americans are religious people. Personally, I am less persuaded that we are truly a Christian people, regardless of our self-perceptions" (George Barna, The Index of Leading Spiritual Indicators, 1996, p. xvi).
Confirmation of the superficiality of faith is to be found in the fact that, although 90 percent of Americans say they pray, many are unsure that their prayers make any difference ( National & International Religion Report, May 17, 1993). "What we have witnessed in the latter part of the twentieth century is the growing secularization of a self-described religious people," the pollster commented (pp. 2-3).
Are churches helping solve this problem? The results of a survey of 11,122 people across six Christian denominations indicate that churches are not doing their job when it comes to inspiring faith among their members. Only a third of adults surveyed said they have a life-transforming relationship with God and are dedicated to serving their fellow man ("What Makes Faith Mature?" Eugene Roehlkepartain, Christian Century, May 9, 1990, pp. 496-499).
If the United States, said by some to be the most religious Christian-professing nation, is having such problems, what does that tell us about the rest of the world? Lack of faith—that is, of an active, living trust in and relationship with God—is a widespread problem affecting every nation and virtually every individual.
When it comes to faith, does God encourage or accept a divergence of approaches? Is it true, as many believe, that many paths lead to God?
Jesus Christ pointed us in one direction: "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him" (John:4:23). Our worship of God must be a reflection of truth. Although worship involves feelings and emotions, God expects us to understand how and why we worship Him. Only by understanding these concepts can we develop the sure, unshakable faith spoken of in the Bible.
A perpetual problem
Generations come and go, but chronic problems persist. Lack of faith has been around a long time. Nearly 2,000 years ago Jesus spoke a parable that illustrated our need to have and practice living faith. He described a widow who was having difficulty obtaining justice. She persevered in her quest for righteous judgment, however, and eventually the judge decided to help her because he grew weary of her constant pleadings (Luke:18:1-5).
Jesus used this example drawn from everyday life to illustrate God's promise to intervene on behalf of people of faith: "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily" (verses 7-8).
Although Christ gives assurance that God will answer His people's prayers, do you have faith that He will answer yours?
Understanding and living according to God's instructions will inspire faith in God and His promises. Faith helps us make sense out of our troubling and confusing world. It gives us the confidence we need to move forward with our lives. And, as we will see, it is vital to eternal salvation in the Kingdom of God.
When Jesus Christ concluded His parable, He asked a question with profound implications for all of us: "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (verse 8).
Faith is all too rare today, but it can be developed in us if we understand the keys to faith. In the following pages we'll see what the Bible says about how you can have living faith.