In a lot of ways I’m pretty average. I may be a bit taller than some, and probably weigh more than I should, but there isn’t really anything extraordinary about me. So when I read the stories in the Bible, and think about how the majority of the people who were there reacted, I assume that I would have done what everyone else was doing.
One example is the story in Mark 9:14-29 about a father who brought his demon-possessed son to be healed. When the father came to the disciples, Jesus wasn’t there. He was with Peter, James, and John and they were on their way back from the mountain where they had seen Jesus transfigured before their eyes. As they approached the other disciples they noticed that a large crowd had gathered, and that the teachers of the law were arguing with them.
When Jesus asked what they were arguing about, the man whose son was demon-possessed came and explained to Him how his son was being tormented by the spirit, and that he had asked the disciples to cast it out, but they hadn’t been able to. It’s at this point that Jesus says, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” (Mark 9:19)
Like I said, I’m pretty average. If I had been one of the disciples it’s a good bet that I would have been in the middle of the crowd, arguing with the teachers, and trying to figure out why I hadn’t been able to cast them demon out. And it’s not like casting out demons was a foreign concept to them. When we look at Mark chapter 6 we see that Jesus sent them out, two by two, and gave them authority over demons. This was actually something that they had done before.
But when I look at my life, I realize that even though there are things that I’ve done before, it doesn’t mean that it will be easy for me to do it again. All I have to do is look at how I spent the last few days, or weeks, in my life and realize that Jesus could very well look at me and say, “O unbelieving Rob, how long will I have to stay with you? How long will I have to keep reminding you of all that I’ve already taught you?”
I don’t know about you, but when I’m faced with a new problem, or just an ongoing old one, I tend to forget all that God has already done for me. When struggling with financial issues I usually get discouraged and depressed. I focus too much on the problem, or what I don’t have, and I forget that all things are possible with God.
One of the scriptures that I battle with the most is in Matthew 6:28-34, especially verse 33 which says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I find myself worrying about what I’ll eat, or wear, or how I’ll pay my mortgage this month. In other words, I worry about “all these things.”
This verse isn’t hard for us because God is asking to do something that is impossible. We have difficulties with it because it’s so unnatural. If we look around us we can see dozens, hundreds, maybe even millions of examples of people who worry about how they are going survive, let alone doing any better than that. The fact that we worry about it is normal in the sense that it’s something everyone does.
But I wonder if Jesus would look at us, those of us in America and other countries where the Word of God is readily available, and just shake His head in frustration. Would He look at us and say, “O unbelieving generation, when are you going to finally understand? When are you finally going to believe?” We are surrounded with God’s word, it’s being preached in our pulpits, over the airwaves, and at us in our daily email devotionals, but do we believe it?
In all fairness it is a frightening thing, the prospect of really believing God’s word, or really trusting Him. And it’s not about us having to do anything that is really crazy, or risky, but just trusting Him with our daily battles. It’s sad to think that Christians in America are just as likely to get divorced, struggle just as much as everyone else financially, and are just as unhappy with their lives as people who don’t believe in God at all.
But I know that taking a step to trust God, to begin to pray with the expectation that He will answer and do amazing things in our lives, won’t be easy. Too often we end up like the disciples who watched helplessly as a demon-possessed boy fell to the ground and foamed at the mouth. We end up overwhelmed by our circumstances and unable to see how God can change things.
Because I’m not particularly extraordinary, I’m just an average Christian; I have to realize that the same thing applies to me that applies to everyone else. I have to allow God to change me. I need to ask Him to open my eyes so that I can see beyond what’s happening to me and finally see what’s possible with God. I must let Him put my faith to the test so that He can remove my doubts. And even though that will be hard, the reward is that I will finally begin to truly have faith in God.