Bill Blankschaen | May 21, 2015
You may have faced—or are facing now—what appear to be impossible obstacles, massive mountains that threaten to keep you from answering God’s call to live a story worth telling.
But there’s good news:
Mountains make the ideal settings for living the best stories.
The disciples faced mountains, too. After they’d tried and failed to heal a demon-stricken boy, Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith and healed the boy himself. He then stated a truth about moving mountains that is so incredible, it’s often either misunderstood or dismissed as unbelievable:
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:19-20 NIV)
Jesus is not saying faith is a clever trick to get whatever you want. This verse is often contorted to mean you can have whatever you desire, if only you believe. I’ve also heard it misconstrued to say God promises to deliver you from all ills, if only you believe.
What results from such interpretations is a lot of sincere Christians who feel extremely guilty when they don’t get what they want or find the healing they desire. Because the mountain they faced failed to move, they presume it was due to their own lack of faith.
After all, they did slap a God-sticker on it.
Such guilt-inducing interpretations of Scripture ignore the context in which Jesus gave this mind-blowing truth. First, His words were spoken privately to his disciples, not publicly to the masses. Second, the disciples were being groomed not to impress friends with their geological prowess, but to advance God’s mission of reconciliation through faith in Christ.
God’s promises always presume God’s purpose.
Given the context in which Jesus spoke, the disciples would have understood him to mean something like this: You could not fulfill my mission in this instance because you did not have faith. But when you do have faith when carrying out my mission, nothing will be impossible for you—not even moving mountains.
It might be helpful to recall that Jesus never actually did move any mountains. Why not? The success of His mission apparently did not require it.
And that is where most modern Christians would be comfortable leaving the conversation. Many would smugly settle back into their pews, feeling pretty good about having successfully defended God’s Word from misinterpretation. But they would stop short of believing what Jesus said: “Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Not because you are awesome but because you trust in the One who defines awesome.
Not because your faith is super-sized but because it is focused with laser-like intensity on the God who is mighty to save.
Not because you can move mountains yourself but because your faith moves God to move mountains on your behalf and for the good of His mission.
E.M. Bounds captures the challenge God gives us: “Men and women are needed whose prayers will give to the world the utmost power of God; who will make His promises to blossom with rich and full results. God is waiting to hear us and challenges us to bring Him to do this thing by our praying. He is asking us, to-day, as He did His ancient Israel, to prove Him now.”
Your faith will write your story. But will it be worth telling?