BARRIERS TO FAITH
READ: Mark 9:14-29
“Because of your little faith,” Jesus told them . “For if you had faith even as small as a tiny mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘move!’ and it would go far away. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:20 (Living Bible)
Jesus’ response to the disciples’ question as why they were unable to cure the epileptic boy must have greatly disconcerted them. To be accused of lacking faith when they had actually been given His authority to cast out demons (Mark 3: 14-15; 6:13) and they previously had been successful in their efforts to do so. However, it’s a situation with which we may identify, things go wrong in our life or in the life of our church and we don’t seem to be able to do anything about it. Our power seems to have gone. We had experienced Jesus at work in our lives in the past and now nothing!! At such points our faith may drop to a new low. What is happening? Our scriptural reading provides clues as to both the disciples and our lack of power.
Let us look more carefully at the situation: Only nine disciples were present at their failed attempt—where were the others? Jesus had selected Peter, James and John to go up on the mountain where He was transfigured. (Matthew 17: 1-2) Might it be possible that at least some of the disciples were a bit jealous that they were not chosen to go with Him? Might His three companions be regarded as “favorites” causing the old green-eyed monster to arise among them? (Can you relate? I can.) Consequently, there may have been an attitudinal problem with those who were not selected.
Another possible factor might be the debate going on between the disciples and the scribes. It seems reasonable to assume that the father had previously approached the synagogue leaders to affect the healing. Why else would the Jewish leaders be in attendance to witness the disciples’ failure to cure? Might the disciples, based on their previous successes, approach the task of healing of the boy with an attitude of ‘We will show them what we can do??” Had past successes blinded them to the real source of their power?
Have not each of us experienced failure as we rashly venture into situations reeking with potential sinfulness and thinking we had the power to overcome or to resist? It seems that we tend to mistakenly believe that” faith” in and of itself is the source of power, when in actuality true faith is an admission of powerlessness and a dependency on God’s power. Further, faith is not something we can obtain without help. Faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2: 8-9). No matter how much faith we think we have, we never reach the point of being self-sufficient. Faith is not stored away like money in the bank.
When we, like the disciples, forget the true source of our power, we erect barriers to our faith. Until these blockades are removed and we truly recognize that growing in faith is a constant process of daily renewal of our relationship with our Lord, we, like the disciples, will not experience power in our daily lives.