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Got faith? Move a mountain!
Matthew 17: 20
He said to them,
‘Because of your little faith.
For truly I tell you,
if you have faith the size of 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.’
Luke 17: 6
The Lord replied,
‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed,
you could say to this mulberry tree,
“Be uprooted and planted in the sea”,
and it would obey you.
Faith and Magic
Imagine a little kid wishing really, really hard for something. As if, with intense concentration and pure application of imaginative will, he would materialize the desired result. We may smile, assuming it is for a new bicycle or a puppy. What if we mix in tears and the child’s wishes are for the recovery of a sister’s form a serious illness? What if the wishing child is praying to God… who he confuses with a Santa Clause which rewards good children and punishes bad children? What if that child had heard that if only he believed strongly enough, that his prayer(wish) would be answered? What if it is not a child but you or me?
Faith is not magic. Faith is not the power by which you or I make the world as we see fit. The kind of faith Jesus is referring to is much more than believing in the correct intellectual propositions about God. It is more than buying into (giving intellectual assent) to a set of established doctrines.
Faith is the operation of the Holy Spirit in the will of the person. Faith means to say what God would say. If God says to a mountain “move” it moves. Faith means speaking with God’s voice. Faith means that God’s will becomes your will. When Jesus teaches us to pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Jesus teaches us how to pray for faith; that our will becomes an expression of God’s will. That is how the Kingdom of God comes into the world through our lives.
Magic is an egotistical action that would bring a god’s power to our will. It is idolatry precisely because it does not seek to trust and it is not a gift to the self but a demand of the ego. We do not have memories of the disciples waving magic wands to run off the Romans, open up gold mines, end hunger and disease or make everyone see Jesus as Messiah. They may have wished to do all that but such was not the expression of faith in their lives. They did heal… but did not end the reality of bodily death and the science of medicine had (and has) a long way to go. They did feed the poor … but they did not end the effects of greed in the world and it is entire societies that reject unjust and inhumane distribution of resources. The disciples did reject worldly authority that contradicted their faith and did discover the grace of sharing their property was greater than the fruits of hording it. But, even as they worked no magic, their mustard seed faith would move the mountain of God’s Temple to the heart of every person and move the tree of life into the conscience in every moral being.
Friends, rejoice in the faith God gives you and God’s activity in organizing your life. Yes, if you are reading this the Holy Spirit is organizing your life. Magical power is hardly the proof of Faith. It may even be a trick of evil. Devoting your life to the finest urgings of your heart is surely faith in action. Let it move mountains.
Seeking Jesus’ Way
Jesus was asked
“When will the Kingdom of God arrive?”
“You won’t be able to see the Kingdom of God when it comes.
People won’t be able to say
“it’s here” or “it’s over there.”
The kingdom of God is among you
Borg-Powelson-Riegert Reconstruction (1996)
Luke 17: 20-21
The Coming of the Kingdom
Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees
when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered,
‘The kingdom of God
is not coming with things that can be observed;
nor will they say,
“Look, here it is!” or “There it is!”
For, in fact,
the kingdom of God is among you.’
Seeking Jesus’ Way
Q – 78
Even if your faith is no bigger than a mustard seed,
you can say to this mountain “Move!” and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.
Borg-Powelson-Riegert Q Reconstruction (1996)