Sunday, October 2, 2011

It really is good news

"I believe; help my unbelief!"

I've always read this response to Jesus in Mark 9 as a shameful admission, a confession of a sub-par level of Christianity. Which goes to show my arrogance and complete disregard of the gospel I claim to believe.

The man who cries this to Jesus in this passage stands out in stark contrast to Jesus's disciples a few verses before, who had been unable to cast a demon out of this man's son. The contrast comes, as expected, from the difference in the level of belief between the man and the disciples, but in the opposite direction I have always thought. The reason the disciples could not cast out the demon is not because they did not believe enough (this is crucial, reader), but because they did not believe at all. Jesus rebukes them later, calling them out for not even approaching the throne of grace and power in prayer before attempting to cast out the demon: he does not say that they did not pray enough, but that they did not pray at all. Having been given authority by Jesus to cast out demons, they trusted in the gift itself, the power itself, and not in Jesus at all. Hence, they tried to cast out this demon in their own power and, of course, failed.

The father of the boy, however, admits his unbelief -- but in admitting that, he also admits some level of faith in Jesus.

This, reader, was what cut to my heart during the sermon this morning:

The gospel is for those with weak faith. Communion is for those with weak faith. Heck, Jesus is for those with weak faith.

I have forgotten the gospel so completely that it was a joy to my heart to hear this truth today. To come to the Lord's Supper in absolute humility, to realize that it doesn't matter how long or how often I pray, how excellent my "quiet times" are, or how much I feel that I am growing. The level of my faith does not matter. There is no such thing as "having enough faith." Anytime I try to muster up enough faith to accomplish anything, I am resting in my own work, and attempting to manipulate God by my own accomplishments, as though He owes me something for being so great.

What matters is if I am resting (by any amount of faith) in the work of Jesus Christ.

It is not the excellence of my Christian walk that saves me. Let me say that again.

It is not the excellence of my Christian walk that saves me.

It is the work of Jesus that saves me. That, and nothing else.

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