February 10, 2014

Matthew 17:20 Climb the Mountain, or Speak to the Mountain?


“Now Lord, don’t move my mountain
But give me the strength to climb.
And Lord, don’t take away my stumbling block,
But lead me all around.”
--Inez Andrews

Mahalia Jackson, a gospel music great, as was Inez Andrews, made this song famous. Others have performed it over the years with soul, energy, and conviction. It sounds powerful, convicting, and inspiring. It has the essence of determination and commitment in the words. 

This song makes you a believer in getting up and trying one more time.

As much as I love this song (and have enjoyed listening to it over the years), I stumbled a bit when I considered what Jesus said about mountains and how to handle them.

At Matthew 17:20, Jesus answers his disciples when they questioned why they were unable to drive out a demon and heal a sick boy. Here’s what Jesus said:

“…because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

When was the last time you heard a sermon on this?

Jesus is not speaking  to super-developed saints here. He tells the disciples they couldn’t heal because of their lack of faith. Please note: the failure to heal had nothing to do with the faith of the person requesting the healing. Remember this the next time a televangelist asks someone in the audience if that someone has enough faith to be healed.

What Jesus says here is that we are not to ask him to move the mountain and we are not to ask him to give us strength to climb. We are supposed to speak to the mountain, telling it to move, and it shall move.

When was the last time you or I did that?

When was the last time I spoke to the mountains of fear, procrastination, bitterness, or stagnation and told them to move? When was the last time you or I spoke to any mountain, telling it to move?  Did these mountains move? Did we really want them to move? Have we started to like some of these mountains?

Did that mountain move the first time I told it to move, or did I have to tell it to move more than once?

Keep in mind: speaking to the mountain is not the same as speaking about the mountain.

Is it too much to accept Jesus’ words when He says “Nothing shall be impossible for you?”

You might tell yourself, “Oh, Jesus was just speaking to His disciples who lived with Him. That’s not for today.” Isn’t that a nice way of freeing yourself from responsibility for speaking to your mountains?

Do you and I love struggle more than we love faith and mountain moving? You don't need great faith to move a mountain, according to Jesus. Mustard seeds are tiny!

Are we afraid to go to the next level because we don’t know anyone who has? Are we afraid to view the world as a place where we can move mountains? When Jesus tells us “Nothing shall be impossible for you”, does a little voice in your mind say, “That can’t be right”? Where would that little voice come from?

Do we really know what it means to be Christian, as in Christ-like, or Christ-ian? Whose directions are we following?

Jesus didn’t say our power would move the mountain, but He did say we must speak to the mountain.

“ I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
   

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