Devotional thought of the day:
So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? 8 I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?” Luke 18:7-8 (MSG)
We are three days into celebrating the fact that the tomb is empty, that the Lord Jesus Christ is Risen, and that because of that – we can know the Lord is with you!
We love Easter, the celebration, the enthusiasm, the overwhelming joy of coming face to face with God’s love, shown on the cross – where we find ourselves drawn into Christ’s death, and the miraculously, our spirits, freed from sin, soar incredibly without the weight of injustice, and sin and guilt and shame. But soon we crash down into this false reality of life, for reality is that peace, we forget the life we have in Christ. ( thank God we are reminded by Paul “ 2 Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory!” Colossians 3:2-4 (TEV) For we are assured that is our reality.
Back to today’s question! In the passage at the very top, we are asked will Jesus find faith on the earth when He returns. If He returned on Easter, as our churches are full, as people are singing and hearing and responding about His being risen from the dead, that day, the answer seems obvious. Yet what about 3 days from now – just a week after Good Friday? What about in August, when the heat is getting to us, and our patience is thin. What about after the next major trauma – whether global in scope or personal? We Christ find faith then?
The first comes from the book Evangelical Catholic that inspired this post – and it deals with faith from the perspective of doctrine, the Biblical teachings that are handed down to us through our churches. The author, George Wiegel. He makes a very solid point about the impediment of our own adaptation of the faith.
Deep Catholic reform in the United States is impeded by bishops, priests, consecrated men and women in religious life, intellectuals, and laity who are in a diminished state of communion with the Church— existentially if not canonically— because they deny to be true what the Catholic Church “believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God,” as the profession of faith for those being received into full communion with the Church puts it. How many Catholics in the United States— again, bishops, priests, consecrated men and women in religious life, intellectuals, and laity— can say, without mental reservation, “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God”? To the degree that the answer to that question is negative, or ambiguous, then to precisely that degree is the deep reform of the Church envisioned by Vatican II being imperiled. (1)
Though I would need to adapt this a little, the idea that people who deny what is believed (faith placed in) and taught and proclaim that is revealed by God, is the key here. We don’t get to redefine what the “faith” is. It simply is what God has revealed it to be. And the more we deviate with that, the more we slowly at first depart from the faith. The more mental reservations we have, the more we say I believe what God has revealed in scripture, except XXX, the more we make ourselves the judge and jury over God, and the less we walk the life of faith, and to be honest, the more doubts we entertain.
I am not saying we shouldn’t challenge what we believe – exactly opposite. But what we test what we believe against is not what is logical, when can always be easily perceived. What is the standard is scripture. What is standard is how God reveals His love, His mercy, His presence to us, even as He fulfills His promise of bringing healing and life to our sin-bruised, battered and broken lives. The more we deviate from the God who is self-revealed in scripture, the more we struggle with placing our logic above God’s, the less we see His work in our lives.
Which brings us to the second point about faith,
Faith isn’t just a noun, it isn’t just getting to know what the scriptures reveal. It is getting to know, to intimately know, the God who reveals Himself through those writings. That is why I titled the above – will Jesus find us trusting Him. Faith is after all – the description of what we trust in God for, the expectation that He will be who He reveals Himself to be – for us, to us, with us. That is also the context of the first reading – where the judge grants the widow’s request because she places her life in his hands. (and even though an evil judge with be faithful and just, how much more will God be?) So the context of the quote about finding faith is nothing less than will Jesus find us trusting in Him, living based in trusting Him to fulfill His promises, and giving to Him everything that burdens us, that causes anxiety, the things we don’t have an answer for yet?
Will we trust Jesus? Will we realize what that cross and empty grave mean, and will we live life with Him, trusting completely in His promises?
That is what causes renewal in us, renewal in our parishes, renewal in our denominations and in the church universal (i.e. small c catholic)
BTW – He is the only one completely trustworthy.
Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (p. 52). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.