Trial of Faith
Hey guys and girls. I’ll tell you up front that I wrote this very quickly, so forgive any spelling and grammar errors. What you see if what you get tonight 🙂
The Bible says that I could move a mountain by speaking to it if I had the faith of a mustard seed. The thing about a mustard seed is that it is one of the smallest seeds in the world. That means that it isn’t the amount of faith that important. Instead, it’s the potency of your faith. You can look at spiders for a good example. The tarantula is a very large spider and injects a lot of venom, but the venom is made to paralyze insects and small prey, it hurts no worse than a bee-sting to a human. On the other hand, a brown recluse is smaller than the tarantula and injects less venom. Yet if you get bitten by a brown recluse you must head for the hospital quickly. Its venom is extremely potent and will cause your flesh and tissue to die (necrosis) if not treated.
That’s the kind of potency we want to see in your faith. It might have been easier in biblical times. If you were a leper or another sick person during the time of Jesus and you saw other sick people that you had suffered with get healed just by touching his robe then it would be pretty easy to have faith that the same would happen to you based on what you were seeing in front of you.
On the other hand, Peter who managed to walk on water out to Jesus on the sea didn’t have potent enough faith to stay on top of the water when the wind picked up. That’s very interesting because he had already successfully walked on the water to get out to Jesus. It’s almost like a dream (or a Douglas Adams novel) where you’re flying and then realize that you can’t fly and immediately begin to drop like a rock.
If it was that hard for Peter then it’s obvious that faith isn’t easy, but still, I’ve had great things happen in my life. I know God is there, I know that Jesus died for me. I don’t have any doubts about any of that. So why can’t I move mountains?
I was praying about that recently and all of a sudden I found myself answering my question out loud. My answers seem to be based more on logic than religion, so if these thoughts are blatantly wrong feel free to blame me.
I think that my faith has been extremely challenged by the many times in the past where I was demonstrating that faith and the thing that I was praying for did not happen. It’s important to be clear that I’m not talking about asking for things that are against God’s will. Many times this has been related to healing. Oddly enough, I have personally received healing in the past. When I was recovering from my hernia surgery I was frustrated with the slowness of the recovery and my inability to get back to normal. On a Friday night with Edith we prayed over it and laid hands on it. The next morning it felt so good I was able to play volleyball with my friends. Yet a year later, despite my prayers and the prayers of many other faithful people I watched my father succumb to pancreatic cancer.
I think that takes us right into number two. We’re all told that God is very mysterious and we don’t know why certain things happen. Usually this is what we say when something terrible has happened. But that’s not the way it is in the Bible. In the Bible God is anything but mysterious. Jesus speaks with authority. He tells us we have power, he tells us truth. It seems so clear. Even the Old Testament is very linear and you can see cause and effect. People took action A and then got the result that makes sense for action A.
Life isn’t as clear as what’s written in historical books though. When you’re going through the events in question it is rare that you have a true prophet telling you which way to turn. In fact, even when you do, it is more likely that we will act the same way that the people of old did, ignoring the prophet, or assaulting him for telling us things we don’t want to hear and ruining our fun. Still, it takes us right back to that mustard seed. He tells us that it is so, but it doesn’t seem to be so for us. Where is our faith?
Maybe it is all the same. The “linear” events in the Old Testament sometimes occurred over 70 to 80 year periods. That’s a full lifetime. If you were born into a period of sin and made it to 30 or 40 years old that would be the only life you had ever known. It’s a lot harder to break out of it then. In fact, it might feel a little bit more like how we feel today. But God is still there and things happen. How surprised are we going to be in 50 or 100 or 200 years when America suffers the same fate that occurs to all nations who turn their face from God? In some history book in a distant future it will look clear cut, but we can’t see it.
I think that many times the potency of our faith is negated by our own actions. I wonder how much of our problem is actually caused by this. If we were pure and clean how much would we be able to do. Isn’t that part of the power that Jesus carried? He was spotless, blameless. Is that the caveat? Is there a missing component to our puzzle/ If we had faith, wouldn’t it be reflected in our actions? And if our actions reflected pure faith, wouldn’t we have the power described in the Bible?
Out of all of them, I think this is the key. Jesus’ power came from his close relationship with the Father. He maintained this close relationship by avoiding sin, by standing against the devil and maintaining his purity. I think this is where we lose the most today. We’re so far removed from purity and holiness that we are barely a shadow of the beings that we should be.
In the end, faith is tied to action. It may even be a feedback look where actions beget faith and in return faith generates more actions. But impure and unholy actions negate our faith and our feedback loop is cut back to step one. If we can eliminate this, if we can be more like Jesus – sinless, blameless – then we would tell a tree to wither and die and it would do it just like it did for him.