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“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the work themselves”. John 14:11

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  Luke 18:17

It is said that we live in an information age and I would agree with that.  Of course, as with any concept or slogan, we have to define terms.  Is it that there is more information out there?  Is it that we have more access to the information in ever increasing speedier avenues?  The short answer is yes; yes to both.  Let’s define information.  Is information, facts, statistics, opinions, perspectives, data, impressions?  Again, yes.

I’ve been reading some books that, among, other things detail the development of the internet.  One of the interesting aspects of the majority of early designers and developers of the internet was their vision for its use.  Many of those people felt that the internet would become a tool where the freer flow of ever greater amounts of information would allow a greater connectivity between users.  The end goal of the increased connectivity and greater sharing of larger amounts of information, was to enhance decision making.  The internet pioneers saw decision makers having more and better information at their disposal, allowing them to, not only see, but purposely analyze and incorporate the varied information into a vastly more accurate and positive decision outcome.  Hmmm.  I’ve also read some recent articles from some of those very same designers who have become quite discouraged about how the internet has actually being used and what passes for information being distributed.

Now understand this is not a critique of the internet or even having more information.  It is in gathering and subsequently sharing information that many advances have come to pass.  With a dear, cherished loved one now being cancer free for many years, I’m very grateful for the breakthroughs that come with greater knowledge attainment and dissemination.

No, this is a cautionary post on the peril there is when we rely on human-centered knowledge and worldly experience as the highest arbiter of truth and wisdom. You see, if we’re not careful, we start to fall into the worldly trap of only believing in or on things which we feel can be proven.  There is an ever growing societal sense that, with the enhanced and advanced tools available to us, we can gain enough information to confidently know and understand everything.  We don’t find the idea preposterous, that has been put forward, that there is a provable “theory of everything.  A theory that explains how all processes work and that we can understand it.  We declare we’ve found the “God” particle, the Higgs boson, which is what started creation.  There was an article based on a study that came out in 2016 that appeared to identify the part of the brain where lying takes place and what happens physiologically when we lie.  When the study was announced there was speculation that lying may be a chemical process, which may allow us to one day manipulate and even terminate people’s ability to lie through some sort of brain manipulation.

So a fundamental question can become, if all is knowable, everything can be eventually proven and thus understood, then should I only believe that which is proven or at least seems provable?  Conversely, is it foolish to have faith in something that seems, at the very least, bewildering, or worse yet forever incomprehensible? Do we discard as fantasy, that which baffles, instead searching for that which appears concrete?

Throughout the Old Testament, God as the Heavenly Father, and in the New Testament, God as Jesus Christ (along with the Father) is very clear about the primacy of, the virtue of and the overwhelming need for; faith.  Abraham relied on faith to leave Ur and travel to the promised land.  The people of Israel needed faith to follow Moses from Egypt.  Jesus described the power of faith in being able to move mountains.  It was imperative that the disciples believe/have faith that Jesus was the true Son of God.  He implored them to believe His words or believe He was the Son of God based on the miracles they had experienced.

Jesus was also quite clear about the sin and destruction would come from requiring a sign.  He spoke of the faithless generation that would only believe in a statement if proof could be shone. Jesus prophesized the impending destruction, both temporal as well as spiritually eternal, that would come upon the generation who would not believe in Him without human understood and agreed with, proof.

Additionally notice how Jesus often dealt with those whom He healed.  He did not ask the blind man, do you understand how I will restore your sight.  When speaking to the woman who just touched his cloak and was healed, Jesus did not ask her to explain how she had been healed.  Like the Roman Centurion whose servant Jesus saved, in all these cases, Jesus lauded the faith the people had shown in coming to Him; their steadfast belief, in the face of all evidence at that time, that Jesus could perform the miracles He did.

Ah, Doug, you say; that was back then and they were ignorant and superstitious.  There is so much we can do today.  We can, in some cases, restore sight.  We have weapons that can move mountains.  We know about genes now and will soon be able to fix and maybe even design our offspring before they are born, heal all manner of diseases and even stop the aging process.  Do I really need faith any more?  Besides, God gave us our brains; aren’t we supposed to use them? With all that we’ve learned, aren’t concepts like good and evil outdated?

For those asking those questions; I would ask you to look around.  Are we acting more civil toward each other through our greater knowledge?  Has our human wisdom allowed us to understand how to prevent wars and threats of war? Where is the theory that lays out the cure for our ever increasing rates of depression as well as increased suicides? Where is our lasting example of our human utopia? Where is the logic in our self centered, self indulgent, self destructive tendencies? Are they any less now then, years, decades, centuries past?

Dear Sisters and Brothers, it is not that God in the forms of Father, Son and Holy Spirit are playing some capricious game of holding back the good/complete information from us to keep in some type of servitude.  As Their creations, They know we are not capable of understanding the Mind of God in Its entirety.  We don’t have a common enough experience/frame work with which to pass information across effectively.  But God loves us and is not willing that we should perish in our willful ignorance.  God has sacrificed everything, in the form of Jesus Christ coming to earth and dying for us so that we might be redeemed and have an eternal loving existence with Him.

Do I understand it; can we understand it fully? I don’t believe we can but our lack of understanding is both irrelevant as well as it does not negate the truth of God’s lovingly perfect plan for our life here and eternally with Him. To have that life starts with one thing; FAITH!

Let us be humble, not resting on our understanding, but kneeling in faith before our Father.  In faith let us call upon the promise of Jesus Christ and receive the peace from God that yes, surpasses all understanding.  By faith let us be open to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who will bring about the limited understanding we need to live into God’s perfect plan.  Use prayer and reading of scripture to have an informed faith; not looking for or relying on proof, but being open to the faithful hope that will reveal all things needed in time.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father we freely admit that Your Ways are above all our ways and Your Mind is as inscrutable as defining the beauty of a rose or baby’s laugh. Yet we also confess that we are all too often willing to rely on our own ways and own understanding instead of putting our faith in You.  Forgive us most merciful Heavenly Father and guide us back to a faithfully fulfilling relationship in and with You. Strengthen us to withstand the logic of the world and the demand for a proof or sign.  Fill us with the Holy Spirit who will give us what we can take in revelation of You.  Let us seek through prayer with You and study of Your Word a humble spirit of faithful obedience.  That in living out our faith in You, Heavenly Father, we would spread Your Love, Forgiveness and Mercy that will bring glory and praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

 

“Do you believe that I am able to do this?”  Matthew 9:28

“They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord'”.  Matthew 9:28

“Then He touched their eyes, saying ‘ According to your faith, let it be done to you'”.  Matthew 9:29

We are doing some things which, on the face of it, seem pretty miraculous.  We are transplanting organs from one person to another.  We’ve started to attempt to transplant things like limbs and faces.  We’re building bionic replacements for appendages and sending nano, cellular sized robots into bodies to attack tumors.  However, from a financial standpoint these are extremely expensive procedures that few could afford on their own.

Now before I go any further, some might be thinking:  “Oh Oh, here’s another one of those you don’t need medicine, don’t go to doctors because all you need is faith and if something is not cured it was a faith problem”, kind of posts.  No it is not and if you were hoping that it is then I apologize.  While, of course, God is free to work on His own with no outside utilization, I believe that the bible shows us that God often will use human persons in carrying out His will; including doctors.  After all, did not Jesus come to earth to be human to carry out His Fathers plan?

So what is this about?  First, the world tends to look at things from an exchange of fair value, aspect.  The fact that often times, the medical prowess and skills take such a long time and at great expense to acquire; that their utilization should come with significant compensation.  Also, it’s not just medicine that this applies to; in general the sayings go:  “You can’t get nothing for nothing” or “You get what you paid for”.  So imagine that you are blind.  In the passage in Matthew referred to above, we don’t know if they were born that way or became that way due to injury or disease; but it doesn’t matter.  They can’t see.  What would you give or what would you expect to pay to receive your eyesight back?  There are several new treatments in trials involving the use of stem cells and implanting of electrodes to bring back the sense of sight.  Yet currently these trials are very expensive.

Nothing in the biblical account gives us an impression that these two men were men of means or wealth.  Hardly, had they been they would have sent for Jesus to come to them instead of following Him and calling out to Him for help.  Still Jesus comes to them and means to heal them; but first, He asks them a question.  In today’s world some of the first things that happen in the medical process is to check the type of insurance you have or to inquire into your ability to pay.  Jesus does not ask them about their financial standing.  He does not ask them what they do for a living, is their family name a name of wealth or how much money do they have saved.  Jesus cares for none of that.  Jesus simply asks do they believe that He can cure them.  Jesus wants to know if they actually believe that He is capable of returning their sight.  That is the only payment Jesus wants; the only price He demands; simply to believe that Jesus can accomplish it.  When they respond that they do believe that He can do it; Jesus uses their form of payment, their faith as payment in replying:….according to your faith, let it be done to you.  That payment must have been sufficient, for both men’s sight was restored.

So let’s look to today.  I would first note the duality of the “coming to” in this passage.  We hear preached and it is true that Jesus Christ will come to us just as we are.  Jesus traveled to where these two men were.  Yet Jesus did not force Himself upon them.  Jesus did not walk up to these men and declare in a loud voice: “Today I will heal you!”  No, Jesus came to where they were but they also had to come to Jesus.  They had to speak out and make their supplication known.  In that way, we must do the same thing.  We must make our supplications to Jesus Christ.  What payment is Jesus Christ going to exact from us?  The same, in that He is wanting to know the same thing from us.  Do we believe that Jesus Christ is capable of; has the power to:  heal our sicknesses, vanquish our demons, forgive our sins?  And His answer is likely to be similar to the one he gave to those two men:  Let it be done to you according to your faith.

Finally, there are a couple of other brief thoughts.  First, but what if I have some smidgen of doubt some fleeting, momentary waiver of faith; am I doomed?  There’s another time, right after His transfiguration when Jesus asks that same question to man who wanted healing for his son.  The man’s response, in my mind is the most classic response in the entire bible:  I believe, Lord help my unbelief.  The Lord did heal the man’s child.  You see Jesus Christ knows we’re human.  He knows that we have problems with perfect faith.  That is one of the reasons that the Holy Spirit is sent to us to help us strengthen our faith against the onslaught of this world.  Second, one might think:  Wow this is cheap!  All I have to do is say, I believe and poof, my miracle happens.  Not so fast, grasshopper.  Remember Jesus Christ says; let it be done to you according to your faith.  So it’s not what comes out of your mouth but what is in your heart that matters.  Plus if you believe in your heart that He can do this because He is Lord, as those men proclaimed, then you are also going to have to believe in loving your neighbors and even your enemies, turning from lust, anger, pride and desire for earthly wealth and power.  Cheap? I wonder.  But all in all, well worth it.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we thank You that You sent Your Son to live among us, to teach us, to heal us. We thank You that Jesus Christ is willing to meet us where we are.  We thank you that He will listen to our supplications and will heal us in mind, body and spirit.  Forgive us when we bring our desires forward without the belief in the Power of Christ to accomplish what we ask.  Also forgive us when our belief is so limited that we want the healing without paying the price of true belief.  Help us Dear Father to come You, through Christ humbly in ourselves but confident in You that the world might see our faith fulfilled in You and give Glory and Praise to Your Most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

 

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