“And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17: 18-20 I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of us as believers have not fully understood this passage about the little mustard seed and how it applies to our faith. On one hand, we read that unbelief is the reason miracles don’t happen. Then we read that we only need a small amount of faith to move a mountain. So which is it? The disciples had been experiencing hearings and miracles and had been performing them in the power Jesus gives to all of us. This time, however, it didn’t work and they were confused. The young boys father had come to Jesus and told him the disciples were unable to cast out the evil spirit. Not one to sugarcoat the situation, Jesus calls them out; “Oh faithless and perverse generation… how long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” It’s probably not correct, but I picture a little eye roll and shaking of the head here on Jesus’ part, like a parent telling a child something for the hundredth time and watching that child do the exact opposite of what he was told. Addressing the crowd, he calls them out on this unbelief. He is never unkind, but He is truthful. In love and power, he heals the child at that moment. Later on, in private, the disciples ask him what happened. I love that we can always do this with Jesus. Go into our room, in private, and ask him honestly “what the heck just happened?” He is always there to comfort us and answer us. Why weren’t they able to heal this boy? His answer is simple, but our interpretation of it has us mixed up. Jesus says simply, “Because of your unbelief.” The disciples weren’t new to this healing thing, they had established faith in Christ and His power. They didn’t doubt they possessed the ability to heal. Faith was there. The problem was that unbelief was there as well. I think we assume the two are mutually exclusive – if you have faith, you don’t have unbelief and if you have unbelief, you must not have any faith. The two can and do operate at the same time. Jesus didn’t say to them “It’s because of your small faith that this boy wasn’t healed.” No, he said it’s because of your UNBELIEF. We fall into the trap of thinking we need bigger or better faith. We assume that prayers aren’t answered because we didn’t have enough faith. God says clearly that we all have been given THE measure of faith that we need (Romans 12:3). It’s His very faith that we receive, not something that we conjure up in our own strength. So Christians give up when things don’t work out and convince themselves that their measure of faith just wasn’t enough. If this were true, then the entire parable of the mustard seed would be meaningless. The mustard seed is the smallest seed. He tells us we only need a bit of true faith, the size of that faith doesn’t seem to matter. We waste our time pleading with God to “give us more faith”. He has already given us what we need! As a believer, we have that measure and it is ABUNDANT! It doesn’t run out when times get tough and it’s not our responsibility to “get more”. Our faith is a response to what He has already provided and done for us. So faith and unbelief CAN exist together. The sick child’s father knew it and cried out “Lord I believe! Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). We know in our heads that there is power in true faith. We struggle because the world we live in constantly fans the flames of unbelief and quenches the Holy Spirit by telling us our lack of faith is the reason we struggle. Plenty of churches teach it. Christian cliches abound telling us to “just have faith”, omitting the most crucial fact, that our faith is from God and not ourselves. The burden of having “more faith” isn’t even Biblical. How amazingly freeing it is to understand that we don’t have to beg and plead with God but instead enter into what He has already done for us! So, it seems like it’s more about getting rid of our unbelief than it is about getting more faith. If we sever our ties with unbelief – thoughts, influences, fears, all the things that come at us that are contrary to God’s Word – if we pull the plug on those things and fill our minds with the truth of God’s Word, things would be vastly different. It’s a simple truth, but we have made it so complicated! We have actually reversed what God has told us to do. By placing the burden on ourselves, we take Him out of the picture entirely. Jesus calls us to be like little children. I don’t think it means being naive or uninformed, but pure at heart. Faith grabs hold of the person of Christ and lets go of everything else. Children believe because they simply have no reason to disbelieve. So maybe we can focus less on being a person of great faith and focus instead on being a person of little unbelief. If we were meant to always have BIG faith, God would have never used the mustard seed as an example. We are called to have a PURE faith, received from Him alone. When that kind of supernatural faith is operating, unbelief has no choice but to flee. How beautiful and freeing that God does not leave us to fend for ourselves in a faith desert – thank you Jesus that it isn’t up to us to “do” but only to “receive”!
It’s so wonderful to discover I have another great godly follower. Thank you and it’s an honor for me to get to know you. We have many of the same followers and friends I see! Look forward to getting to know you. Blessings,