Believe (A Sermon to myself)
And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!
As I dwell on this exhortation for myself, I am reminded of what Jesus offers. “All things are possible for one who believes.” Limitless possibilities! What a big statement! Of course, I do not mean that we can cast magic spells by claiming out loud that we believe God will do a certain thing. I am not talking about mustering up a positive attitude to will something into existence. I am talking about faith in the God of the Bible to do what He says He is going to do. I am talking about His mission and what He intends to accomplish on this earth. I am talking about His restoration of the brokenness all around me and in me.
For some reason, God wants us to ask him. He wants us to grow in faith of who He is and that He will provide. In the story referenced above, God honors the man’s honest confession, “I believe; help my unbelief!” In fact, it is in the asking and receiving that our unbelief is diminished.
I believe that the church is His bride. That He loves the church. That the church is His means to carry out His mission. I also believe that the church is broken and in need of repair. It needs continual reforming. I believe that He has called me to lead by shepherding and teaching. Yet, I have doubts that He can or will use me. The doubts are not directed toward Him but toward me. But I see a failure in this thinking. There is a sense that I am saying I doubt He can overcome the obstacle of my inability. Is that true? Is He unable to overcome my inability?
Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt 16:18) Is my inability more powerful than the gates of hell? What does He say He will build His church upon? It is the rock of faith! It is not about my ability or inability. It is about what He can do, not about what I can do. It is about who he is, “the son of the living God.” (Matt 16:16)
Jesus will build His church on faith. Not perfect faith, not complete faith. Consider the great commission of Matt 28:16-20.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…
Some doubted! Yet, Jesus used the doubtful believers to launch the biggest movement on the face of the earth. He did not say, first take care of your doubts, and then follow me. No! He said to a group of doubtful believers, go and make disciples. The command is not rooted in the perfection of their faith or in their abilities. It was rooted in His authority. When we have the mustard seed of faith that Jesus is the Son of God, we have all we need. We trust in what He will do when we are simply obedient to make disciples. All we do is point people to the reality that Jesus is the Son of the living God. As we do this simple thing with this simple seed of faith, He will both build His church and help us in our unbelief.
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A shepherd and his journey