Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Do You Believe Hard Enough?

I’m no fan of Progressive Insurance’s ad campaign.  It seems like they’re willing to mock everything but single women.  In one of the most recent commercials, spokesperson ‘Flo’ explains to a co-worker that he doesn’t “believe hard enough”.  Burn thirty seconds and watch the commercial.

What about you?  Do you believe hard enough?

I grew up believing this word from our Sponsor:
“…Truly I say to 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 to you.” (Matthew 17:20b)
Jesus referred to a mustard seed because it is so small.  Most of us can muster even “a little” faith, can’t we?  I remember clearly putting this promise from Jesus to the test.

In my childhood, the TV show “My Favorite Martian” was a favorite show.  It featured a human-looking alien who had a special ability – a levitating finger.  He could point at anything, lift it up, move it around, hilarity ensues.

I remember laying in bed one night begging God for a levitating finger.  I promised Him that I would only use it “for His glory” – I would become a spectacle, but I would be sure to tell people they should follow Jesus while I floated anvils and bank safes and cars over their heads.  How could God turn down a deal like that?

Even though I was only about 6, I remember so clearly waking up the next morning.  I took a moment to gather my wits, I remembered my prayer and also God’s promises in scripture.  I was ready to move mountains!  I pointed at a pen on the table in my room.  I paused, then, I willed it to float.  That pen is still probably on that table today!  Never budged.

What went wrong?

Actually, nothing went wrong.  At age 6, making objects float seemed like an act of faith.  Today, making relationships work seems more like a mountain worth moving.  What’s your mountain?  What would you do if you could only “believe hard enough?”  Another word from our Sponsor:

Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. (Romans 8:28 Phillips Translation)

This verse is one of the most misunderstood verses in all of scripture.  We mistakenly think that if the result is good, God is obliged to make it happen.  Not surprisingly, many people think that God works out things for “our good”.  I like this Phillips Translation because it reminds us that God has a great big plan for good – a long term plan for good.  God’s ultimate good is the Good News – the Gospel.  God wants to see all people saved through faith in Jesus.  Levitating plates of food doesn’t quite rise to that noble occasion.

At another time I may try to discuss the miracles Jesus performed.  I hope you’ll trust me when I say that Jesus was reluctant to do miracles.  “Doubting” Thomas didn’t believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead until he touched Jesus’ wounds.  A last word from our Sponsor:
Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:29-31)

Jesus could have done thousands of “parlor tricks” (my term) to wow and amaze people. The miracles he did perform certainly seized people’s attention.  But Jesus did not want us to believe because He broke the laws of physics – after all, Jesus created those laws!  Jesus wants us to have a faith that trusts in God’s good plan whether or not it ever affects us personally.

Are you a follower of Jesus?  Do you believe hard enough?  In what?  What do you believe in?  Do you have faith that God can heal your broken or torn relationships?  Do you have faith that God can give you the resolve to endure grave difficulty in your life?  Do you have faith that God will bless your obedience to Him?

Every day I see “Laundry List Christians” presenting God with petitions of things they’d like to see Him do.  Need money for the car brakes, baby is sick… I once had a young dating couple ask for prayer that the divorce of one of the two love-birds would go well.  No foolin’!

Pray for whatever you want, but I think the best prayer is what Jesus prayed in His most desperate moment, “Not My will, but Thine be done.” (Luke 22:42)  Do you believe hard enough to pray that?

Clark H Smith