Faith Is Simple (But Not Easy)
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive your trespasses.” – Mark 11: 25
The first couple times I read through the passage assigned for today (Mark 11: 20 – 25) I totally focused on, “Believe what you say will come to pass, and it will be done for you.” I was having Norman Vincent Peale power-of-positive-thinking flashbacks, when without warning Jesus went all Martin Luther King Jr. on me.
I was fired up about faith moving mountains, but suddenly stopped short by “Forgive, if you have anything against anyone.”
In the first part of the passage Jesus says, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe . . . it shall be done for you.”
Strong faith is good, but there’s also something seductive about a passage that includes, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” We, or at least I, find myself imagining all my dreams and wants brought to pass.
I entirely missed that vs. 25, which seems to change the topic, was part of the deal. “Believe and it will be yours,” is cheek-by-jowl with, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that God in heaven may also forgive your trespasses.”
One moment all Joel Osteen and then suddenly St. Francis.
It is easy to turn faith into an instrument of me getting what I want. But I kind of think faith is more about God getting what God wants, what God wants in and through us.
I was wondering if maybe Mark needed a better editor, when it occurred to me that, “Forgiving anyone who you have anything against” really is a true mountain-moving project. And maybe the greatest miracle of them all would be to believe you are already, by the grace of God, receiving a new and forgiving heart.
For all that keeps us honest and keeps it real — the Scriptures, friends in faith, the church, family and the still small voice of conscience, thank you. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.