One Word: Believe

[Jesus] could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mark 6:5-6 (NIV)

Among my local gathering of Jesus’ followers there has been an initiative in recent years to choose one word as sort of a spiritual theme for one’s life each year. It’s a very informal thing. Most people pray about it and seek some divine guidance in what their “one word” should be. It becomes a tool for asking, seeking, and knocking on the spiritual door of what God is doing in your life in the particular stretch of your spiritual and/or life journey.

My word for this year is “believe” which I consider to be the active form of “faith.”

One of the subtle themes that I find Mark weaving into his Jesus story is that of faith. Those who had faith experienced the miraculous. In today’s chapter, the people of Jesus’ hometown couldn’t believe that Joseph’s boy, Jesus, was this teacher everyone was talking about:

“He’s the carpenter. You know! Joseph and Mary’s boy. The one who abandoned Mary and the siblings this last year to become this traveling prophet. Who does Jesus think He is? If you ask me, that boy should get these silly notions out of His head, get back to the carpenter’s shop, and help provide for the family.”

Mark records that Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. Few miracles were performed, not because Jesus had less power but because the people had less of the activating ingredient of the miraculous: they didn’t believe. Their limited faith in Jesus limited what God could do among them.

Later in the chapter, after Jesus feeds five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish and walks out on the Sea of Galilee to meet the disciples who are struggling at the oars of their boat, Mark records that #TheTwelve were still amazed and struggling to understand what Jesus was doing. Their “hearts were hard” Mark records. Their faith had not caught up to what they had been witnessing. They were struggling to believe it all.

In the quiet this morning, my mind wanders back to what Jesus said a few chapters back:

“What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

Mark 4:30-32 (NIV)

Jesus also used the Mustard Seed as a metaphor for how much “faith” is required to move a mountain.

I find it ironic (or is it a divine appointment?) that my “one word” for 2020 is “believe” and it’s the year that the COVID-19 virus upends life as we know it and, according to the press who screams it 24/7 to anyone who will listen, threatens to tank the global economy and take my business with it (if we all don’t die first).

Have you ever seen a mustard seed?

In the quiet this morning, Holy Spirit is whispering to my spirit. I imagine it was the same message Jesus was whispering to #TheTwelve on the boat after he walked out on the water and climbed in the boat.

“Yep. It doesn’t take much. Just believe.

All of Tom’s chapter-a-day posts from Mark are compiled in a simple visual index for you.

A note to readers: You are always welcome to share all or part of my chapter-a-day posts if you believe it may be beneficial for others. This includes social media such as Facebook or Twitter. I only ask that you link to the original post and/or provide attribution for whatever you might use. Thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “One Word: Believe”

  1. 7-8 Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions:

    8-9 “Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple.

    10 “And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave.

    11 “If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.”

    I’m not sure why human nature leads us to believe we need to convince other people to think and believe the same way we do. Where did that come from? Social media has shed a light on the fact that people will speak down to, belittle and even name-call those who think differently than they do. Very few of these people would say the same things to the person’s face, because most humans also avoid conflict like they do COVID-19. The safety of the phone or computer monitor gives folks a whole new confidence to reveal their true character.

    These thoughts this morning make Jesus’ comments to his disciples even more compelling to me. “You don’t need a bunch of education or to be armed with all kinds of tools to do this. Be humble…be modest, and if the listener doesn’t want to listen? Just walk away.”

    Paraphrased of course, but what a great lesson. I’m responsible for me and sharing how Jesus works in my life. You are responsible for you. Hey world, let’s stop trying to change everyone else’s mind today and just live into who God is calling each of us to be. I’m guessing we may have less stress and anxiety in our life tonight if we do so.

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