Monday, August 18, 2014

Convicting Verse about Faithlessness

            Mark 6:5-6: “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.  And he was amazed at their lack of faith.” 
            In this passage, Jesus has gone back to His own hometown.  And the people there are basically talking about Him like, “Where did He get this wisdom, even doing miracles?  Isn’t He the carpenter, the son of Mary?” 
            But they are not asking it like, “Wow, what a great accomplishment and amazing power!  How neat that one of our own has done so well.  Now He can really help out our town.”  They are saying it like, “This is Jesus we are talking about here.  We’ve known Him forever.  How can little old Jesus really be anything special?”
            And Jesus Himself points out this skepticism and doubt to the disciples by saying, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”  And then comes the verse that says that He couldn’t do any miracles there because of their lack of faith.
            This is such a sad, telling passage.  Jesus – God in the flesh – was among them.  And they couldn’t see it because they had preconceived ideas about who He was and what He was capable of.  He was just “a carpenter” to them.  How could He really do anything worthwhile for them other than make their chairs and tables? 
            The thing is, they thought they had Him figured out.  They thought they knew Him.  And this prevented them from really knowing Him.  And it prevented them from believing that He was capable of real miracles.  And if they didn’t think He was capable, they didn’t bother to bring their needs to Him.  Oh, the healings and miracles that could have been done – the illnesses and pain and heartaches that the people had to live with – all because they never really saw Jesus for who He was.  All because they thought they knew Him so well.
            Isn’t that how it is with us sometimes?  We face so many difficult times, and yet it never dawns on us that maybe Jesus, God, can help us with that.  And I’m not just talking physical healing.  I’m talking addictions, guidance, relationship advice, financial concerns, emotional scars, doubts, fears, low self-esteem, depression, getting ourselves out of trouble we’ve created, etc.  For some reason, we feel like these are our responsibilities, our burdens to bear.  And we try to deal with the problems on our own, never really realizing that Jesus is right there, ready and willing to help if we would just bring the problem to Him.
            Maybe we doubt that He wants to help with whatever our problem is or that He even cares about something so “small.”  And if we’ve been hurt in the past, we may be afraid to be let down or brushed off if we lean on Him.  We assume that He will not care about our concern or that we are not important enough to bother Him, and so we don’t ask simply because we don’t want to have our fears confirmed.  We don’t want to risk being vulnerable and needy only to find out that He brushes us off or abandons us in our need, just like we feared He would.  So we never ask.  
            Or maybe we don’t ask for help because we know what He would tell us to do.  Maybe He’ll tell us to change something we know we need to change.  And so we don’t ask because we don’t want to change.  We don’t want to do the thing we know He’ll tell us to do.  We don’t want to be convicted of something we know we are guilty of.  And so we try to deal with our situation as best we can in our limited human understanding.  And we go without the true healing that Jesus can bring. 
            “He could not do any miracles there . . . And he was amazed at their lack of faith.”
            It’s not that He wouldn’t do any miracles, it’s that He couldn’t.  He couldn’t do any because the people simply did not think He was capable.  They thought they knew Him so well.  They didn’t think He had anything worthwhile to add to their lives.  So they never brought their concerns to Him.  The blessings they missed out on! 
            God is capable of so much more than we give Him credit for sometimes.  He cares about so many more “little” things than we think He does.  He will grant us wisdom and providence and guidance in any area of life, if only we believe that He will.  If only we believe it enough to actually bring the problem to Him.  (And it’s crucial that we take the time to listen and commit to being obedient.  These are essential for having the kind of life God wants for us.) 
            So let’s not limit Him by our foggy understanding and limited vision.  Let’s start living like He is the mysterious, powerful, involved, capable, concerned, and compassionate God that He is.  Let’s have faith that He cares and that He will help us in our time of need, in His time and in His way. 
            (It is so important to remember this when we ask for His help: It always comes in His time and in His way.  But it comes!  The answer may be “yes” or “no” or “not yet,” but He always answers.  And don’t forget that extended periods of God’s silence are necessary steps on the path to spiritual maturity.  It doesn’t mean He’s ignoring you or abandoned you.  He’s just giving you time to discover and wrestle with what’s really inside of you: doubts, fears, misunderstanding, sins, heart idols, etc.  He’s waiting for you to see the ugly truths about yourself and the broken parts of yourself so that He can lead you to humility, healing, and spiritual growth and maturity.  And His silence about a prayer request could also mean that He’s in the process of answering your prayers – of setting the stage – and you simply need to be patient and wait on Him.  His answers often come a lot slower than we wish they would.  But when they come, they are right and good.)
            He is capable of so much more than we live like He is.  We just have to have faith enough to believe this and act on it, and then have faith enough to trust Him no matter how He answers.  May it never be said of us that our lack of faith prevented Him from doing wonderful, miraculous things in and with our lives.  But instead may we be known as people who believe that He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us . . .”  (Eph. 3:20)  For His Kingdom and His glory!  Amen