Our Sunday morning series on miracles in Matthew’s gospel continues to challenge me. What is the role of Faith in our lives? What does it mean to “believe?” Do I, do we, believe strongly, deeply enough? How do we even know?
Faith is a noun, but it seems to always result in action. We don’t have an action version of that word in English – something like “faithing.” So we have to switch to another set of terms – believing or trusting. We do know it’s important, and like the father who came to Jesus, we find ourselves saying, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
Our passage for this Sunday, Matthew 17:14-21, captures an interesting emotion of Jesus as he responds, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you?” Ouch! Jesus sounds frustrated or exasperated, or even angry. His disciples have fallen short yet again. Their Faith was not enough in the face of a family in crisis, a child in need.
This week we explore the possibilities of Faith and the possibilities of failure. Verna Dozier, in her book The Dream of God, says: “Faith implies risk. The faith view of reality is frightening in its openness, so institutions are always trying to control reality with doctrines and laws and creeds. Kingdom of God thinking calls us to risk.”
Is that the problem? Is the risk, the possibility of failure, holding us back, holding you back? “Nothing will be impossible,” Jesus said. But that sounds very, very risky. How will we respond to our encounter with Jesus? How will we respond to the many needs around us waiting to be addressed by Good News responses? What is holding us back? Harry Emerson Fosdick, a preacher from the 20th century, once said, “The world has two ways of getting rid of Jesus. The first is by crucifying him; the second is by worshiping him without following him.” There is still a great deal of truth in that statement. This Sunday, we get to decide if we really are Christ-followers.