I once met some people who were critical of our giving “too much” honor to Jesus. We were talking about a saying of Jesus, and one of them asked me, “Do you believe this because Jesus said it, or because it is true?” I said I believed it for both reasons: because Jesus said it and because it is true. I have always felt I should have said more; I should have been willing to be a fool and to say, “Even if I did not understand it, I would still believe it, because Jesus said it.” These people were horrified that anyone could have a childlike faith in Jesus.
Why are there so many people today who cannot find faith? I think there are several reasons. Some are satisfied with what is happening; they are proud to be living in a time of great culture and civilization, and they are blind to the suffering of humankind and the whole of creation. They have lost sight of God.
Others despair. They recognize the injustice of mammon, and they suffer with those who are oppressed. But in their compassion they forget the guilt of men – the guilt we all must bear. And if they do see guilt, they see only the guilt of a certain class or nation, not that of all men. They see the creation but not the Creator. They, too, have lost sight of God.
Still others see the sin, guilt, and weakness of men, but they have no heart, no patience with the oppressed, and they do not suffer with them. Because they have lost sight of God, they do not hear the cry of all creation. They have no real faith, or they have found faith only for their own souls and not for suffering humanity.
We can find faith only if we first find God. When we have found God, we will begin to see the need of man from His viewpoint, and we will believe that He can overcome this need. Men must recognize that God loves the world even in our time. In the night of judgment that is passing over our so-called civilization, men need to hear that God still loves them and loves his creation. The message of faith is a message of love.
I want to encourage anyone who feels discouraged because of having made unsuccessful attempts to follow Christ. In and of ourselves we cannot follow him; we are all equally unable. But that is because our dedication to him is not complete. Only when we empty ourselves completely, when we give everything over to God, can he work. As long as we work in our own vanity, we will fail. God shows us again and again how terribly we fail and stand in his way, as a church and as individuals. Discipleship is not a question of our own doing; it is a matter of making room for God so that he can live in us.