Monday, November 12, 2012

Belief and Unbelief

Spirit & Truth # 297
“Belief and Unbelief”
By Greg Smith

            In Mark 9, Jesus descends from the Mount of Transfiguration to meet with a demon-possessed boy in the valley.  The child’s father says, “If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 
            Jesus responds, “’If You can?’ Everything is possible to the one who believes.”
            Immediately the father of the boy cries, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.”[i]
            Whether we choose to admit it or not, every Christian is a mixture of belief and unbelief.  When belief is taken as agreement with a theological proposition, we can sometimes be both faithful and faithless.  Some doctrines are hard to understand—like how God can be both three persons and one person at the same time, or how God can be ultimately good, yet still allow evil to exist in the world.  We inherit both our Bible and our biblical doctrines from our forefathers, and we simply agree to believe some things that to the natural mind seem unbelievable.  We believe, but deep within us is a shred of disbelief that lingers.  We ask God’s help with our unbelief.
            When belief means something more than adherence to theology, we can have an even more difficult time.  The New Testament word pisteuō (I believe) means something more than agreement with dogma.  It means trust.  If I look at a chair that’s sitting before me, I can agree that it will hold me all day long.  I can measure it, weigh it, and examine its joints to make sure that they’re secure.  But I haven’t really believed, or trusted the chair until I have sat in it with my full weight.
            Believing in God means something more than theological assent.  It means placing your whole life in the arms of Jesus, and letting Him carry your full weight.  Perhaps the demon-possessed boy’s father agreed theologically that Jesus could cure his son, yet his unbelief, or mistrust, held him back from fully submitting to Jesus’ treatment.  When Jesus saw that the crowd (full of a mixture of believers and unbelievers) was quickly arriving, he quickly stepped in to heal the boy—before time could increase the man’s doubt.
            When you find yourself like this man, a mixture of belief and unbelief, pray the prayer that he prayed.  God will quickly step in and do something mighty on your behalf.  Below is a prayer that may help you express your mixed emotions to God:
Lord, I believe!  
     Help my unbelief.
Lord, I trust!  
     Help my distrust.
Lord, I open myself to You!  
     Help my blockages.  
Lord, I am receptive to Your agenda today!  
     Help my projections of self-will.
Lord, I am passive before You!  
     Help my hyperactivity.
Lord, I cooperate with the healing You bring!  
     Help my resistance.
Lord, I accept Your will!
     Help my insistence on my own.
          For filling comes only to an empty vessel.

[i] Vv. 22-24 HCSB

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