February 7, 2016: U don’t hafta believe in God; God believes in U!

Posted on : Feb 4th, 2016 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

You do not have to believe in God for God to believe in you

One of the questions I am often asked is, “How do you know God exits?”

That’s a good question and I have a very simple answer, which I’ll tell you on Sunday.

I think almost everyone in their journey of faith, and certainly almost every one of us who lives in the 21st century, at some time or another in our spiritual journey questions the existence of God. In some ways, I think it is more difficult for us to have faith in our information-based 21st century that for our ancestors of faith. But faith isn’t about information or proof. It’s about trust and belief. There are some questions that Google, Siri and Amazon Echo can’t answer.

One of the most profound stories about having faith or not having faith; believing in God or not believing in God; believing in Jesus or not believing in Jesus is tucked away in the middle of the gospel of Mark. It is a very interesting story and what makes it more interesting to me is that the early church writers “buried it.”

You know what it means to “bury a story?” In the days of newspaper reporting if a story was politically sensitive, it would often be buried some place in the paper where people were not likely to see it or read it. That’s what happens with this story. Matthew and Luke each include part of the story in their gospels, but they cut out the best part – and the most controversial part, spiritually speaking.

The story is about a father who has a son who in the language of the biblical writers was “possessed” by an evil spirit. From the description of the situation, some today might assume the boy had epilepsy. What he has isn’t the issue. The issue is about faith – what you believe and in whom you believe.

In this story, Jesus comes along and sees the disciples fighting with the religious Scribes and asks “What is going on?” A father explains that his son is possessed (ill) and that he asked Jesus’ disciples to heal him. The disciples weren’t able to do that. So the father begs and pleads with Jesus, saying, “IF YOU ARE ABLE to do anything, have mercy on us and help us.” Jesus looks incredulously at the man and says, “What do you mean if I am able? What’s at issue here is not if I am able but if you believe that I can heal your son.”

In one of the best responses ever, the man shouts out: “I believe, help me in my unbelief!” And that is the part of the story that gets buried or cut from the other gospels.

Many think it’s sinful or horrible to question one’s belief in God or in Jesus. I think it’s healthy. I think it is good. In the end, I think it strengthens our faith. Some people are afraid that if you say you question God’s existence that you might come to the horrible conclusion that God doesn’t exist! For me, it’s quite fine for someone to come to that conclusion. Rest assured, my friends, someone questioning God’s existence or their faith in God or Jesus, does not mean that God or Jesus does not exist. It simply means that they are questioning whether God exists. Big difference there. That’s why I love this story. The father offers this beautifully authentic spiritual truth: “I believe! But help me in my unbelief.”

The teaching of this story is “You do not have to believe in God for God to believe in you.” You do not have to believe in Jesus, for Jesus to believe in you. That is a message worth remembering!

More on Sunday!

Blessings,

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Mark 9:14-24

When Jesus, Peter, James and John came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw Jesus, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. Jesus asked them, ‘What are you arguing about with them?’

Someone from the crowd answered him, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.’ Jesus answered them, ‘You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.’ And they brought the boy to him.

When the spirit saw Jesus, immediately it threw the boy into convulsions, and the boy fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And the father said, ‘From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have mercy on us and help us.’

Jesus said to him, ‘If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.’

Immediately the father of the child cried out, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’

When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!’ After crying out and convulsing the boy terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took the boy by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand.

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