Recently, my wife read the Dutch Sheets blog post entitled, Increase Your Faith – It’s Time! In it, he talks about an often misunderstood passage of scripture. In Matthew 17:20, Jesus talks about having faith like a mustard seed. Unfortunately, some translations of the Bible say “the size of” a mustard seed. This teaches that we only need to have a tiny amount of faith, but this is an incorrect translation.
What then did Jesus mean when he meant “like” a mustard seed? Did he only mean small? If he intended small, he could have said any number of things, a speck of dust, a tiny bug, a teeny weeny pebble. But, no, Jesus talked about the mustard seed because it grew from something little into something that became a big tree. That was the context of that verse. Ultimately, being a Christian doesn’t mean just getting by on a tiny bit of faith but on growing our faith as the mustard seed does. Dutch also beautifully summarizes this truth with, “Growing faith moves mountains, not mustard seed size faith.”
I believe the you-only-need-a-little-bit-of-faith teaching has been disastrous for many Christians’ walks throughout history. It has caused many to assume that growing a relationship with Christ and pressing into their faith is unnecessary. They already have everything they need. How many have never sought God’s complete will for their lives as a result?
That aside, Dutch’s post also got me thinking about what faith was and how it can move mountains. Faith is ultimately trusting in God and following his will. His will can be either general (to everyone) or specific (to us alone). We can learn God’s general will through his word (the Bible) and God’s specific will through the Holy Spirit (revealed in prayer and through other Christians). Before we can know God’s specific will, though, we have to first follow his general will. His specific will also will never conflict with his general will. For example, God will never tell you to divorce your faithful wife, kill your boss or evade your taxes because all of these go against his general will. But what about when it’s not in conflict with his general will?
How come God sometimes doesn’t move the mountains in our lives? Why does someone we love die? Why does my faithful Christian sister still struggle with multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair? Why won’t God move that mountain? Her husband and her have faith and so do my wife and I. Why doesn’t our prayers always result in healing? What is the answer? Is it because we don’t really have faith? Is it something else we are missing? Wouldn’t a loving God want to see the cancer healed or the infertile couple pregnant?
It can be difficult at times to understand God’s specific will, and at times it might not seem fair. Sometimes it is hard to comprehend something in our life being God’s will. Living with pain, a loss, or a struggle seems counter to a loving God. Still, when we understand God’s general will and grow in faith, we may realize the mountains we are focusing on (that don’t seem to be moving) aren’t moving for a reason. Not because we lack faith or because God doesn’t care about us but because they serve a greater purpose. They bring us closer to God, and in that, we grow in peace, strength, humility, and love. By bearing these unusual fruits under challenging circumstances, others are drawn toward us and, as a result, God.
In the end, we may want a specific mountain moved, but sometimes it has to remain because God doesn’t just want to move one mountain. He wants to move a whole range! He wants to bring many to Christ! Sometimes the only way to move that range is for our mountain to stay in place. We can’t always have both. Sometimes it has to be an either-or because one affects the other. If we had to choose though and really think about it, which would be better? Temporary relief for ourselves or someone we love in the few years we have on this planet or the eternal relief of many?
We might not know the full effects of our faith in this life or how many mountains it will move (sometimes it feels like we aren’t reaching anyone), but we can be sure that our faith always moves mountains. Christ didn’t just give us an isolated example with the mustard seed. He gave us a promise!
Anyways that’s just my thoughts on the matter, check out the rest of Dutch Sheet’s blog post here.