You've Got Enough Faith To Move Mountains
When I was a kid, I remember being taught in Sunday school and in the Christian schools that I attended that if I "had enough faith," I could do anything because God rewarded people who had "enough faith."
The verse that was most often cited for this remarkable assumption was Matthew 21:21 which reads:
Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.
The context for this verse is a miracle that occurs when Jesus curses a fig tree as a way of teaching his disciples about the radical nature of the kingdom of God. The fig tree withers and dies, which makes the disciples freak out a bit.
I understand that completely. I would have freaked out, too.
And I completely get that some people have a hard time believing the miraculous stories that we see throughout the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life and ministry. It's a bridge too far for them, perhaps.
I could try to wax all eloquent here and bust out a theological treatise on Jesus' miracles, but that would be boring, and probably unconvincing. Instead, I'll just say that I would rather live in a world where the miraculous was possible, and leave it at that.
But when Jesus tells the followers that if they have enough faith (and don't doubt) they can tell a mountain to move and it will... that's a bit of stretch for me to take at face value.
Because no matter how hard we try, we won't be able to pull that off, no matter how much faith we can muster.
Here's the good news about that verse: You can't take it literally because Jesus didn't mean it literally. It was a colloquial saying, a bit of rabbinical hyperbole meant to grab the attention of the hearer.
What Jesus was trying to convey to his followers was that it doesn't take anything special to experience miraculous things in the world. All you have to do is come with whatever faith you have, an open heart and mind, a willing spirit... and God will fill in the rest as needed.
Here's the thing, none of us want to move literal mountains, but there are plenty of spiritual and emotional mountains in our lives that we wish we could disappear. And far too often we feel like we don't have enough of what it takes to move them.
In order to move those mountains, we need to see ourselves differently. We need to see ourselves through the eyes of God, who is quite willing to work with whatever faith we've got at the moment.
Writer Anne Lamott calls this kind of faith: “Lunch money faith: nothing dramatic and just enough.” Lunch money faith... I love that description so very much.
Far too many Christians spend their lives trying to gain faith as if their life is a video game where they "level up" after completing tasks or defeating villains. It doesn't work that way.
Jesus' essential teaching here is:
"Come with whatever bit of faith that you've got, and don't doubt that it's enough because God can do amazing things with whatever you have."
May you live into the knowledge that you have enough faith to move whatever mountains you are facing in your journey. May you surrender it all to God, and let God do the rest.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.