Part IV:He Is the Same … December 3, 2011

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Charlotte, North Carolina

Jesus marvels at faith.

And I’m not just talking about the kind of faith that is immediately linked with some belief in God. I’m talking about many kinds of faith–faith in humanity, faith in an idea, faith in oneself when it is well-balanced with factual humility. Jesus marveled at people who stepped out of their box and into a world of possibility–deciding to touch the hem of his garment, return to the home after being a prodigal, or screaming at the top of the lungs that they were sick and tired of being blind.  He always stopped in his tracks, smiled and shook his head in great admiration. This kind of faith is a beautiful combination of self-awareness with the passion to pursue the second mile that always gained the appreciation of Jesus–self-awareness in the sense of “this is who I really am, this is where I’m presently heading and this is an idea on how I can alter that course to more favorable conclusions.” Also, knowledge of where one is heading is simultaneously knowing that duplicating where others are going will curry you neither notice nor favor.

Yes, the wonderful blend of honesty with passion for the second mile always creates the kind of human adventure that Jesus envisioned for his friends and followers. He described that kind of faith as “a mere mustard seed.” After all, if we waited until we thought our faith was large enough to begin a task, no one would ever launch a dream. But a mustard seed was a tiny little thing with only one goal–to be planted. No seed is any good until it finds earth–and no human being has any quality until the feet are planted in the earth and they establish what they can and cannot do.

Then Jesus says that once the mustard seed is planted, we need to gain voice–to say to the mountains of our lives, “Be removed.” Yes, to simply and quietly plant your seed is not enough if it isn’t followed by you telling the mountains in your path that they must go. We need a speech. Sometimes we need to rehearse it, like the prodigal son did when he returned to his father. Sometimes the words come from the Spirit–as Jesus said would happen in the hour when we most need it. But we need to gain words to coincide with our planning–and those words need to make it clear to the world and to obstructions in our lives that we mean for them to go.

And finally, Jesus says that if your mustard seed  is planted and you gain voice, there’s only one thing that remains: don’t doubt in your heart. Be clean emotionally about it. Most people fail because they do not give a report of the totality of their feelings before they begin to march off to do warfare. Your heart matters. Any time you try to work beyond your feelings, you will find that in the hour of need your emotions will betray you.

Jesus marveled at faith because it blended two magnificent human attributes–a mustard seed of faith that speaks to mountains with no doubt in its heart and a complete awareness that merely performing the status quo will not get your head above water, but that a second mile is required.

There are many people who believe the Gospel is a message of grace. They think a mere acceptance of God’s gift of salvation guarantees an eternal security and more or less an earthly bodyguard which prevents us from falling into any kind of damnation or even irrevocable difficulty. The only problem with that doctrine is that it doesn’t jive with the teachings of Jesus. Jesus did not come to make serfs who worship the king in the castle. Jesus came to teach servants how to master their lives.

  • I am a mustard seed. I must be planted.
  • There will be mountains that need to be removed.
  • I will gain voice to speak to the mountains.
  • I will not doubt in my heart.

Anything short of this kind of powerful living renders us at the mercy of circumstances instead of making us “more than conquerors.” Jesus marvels at faith because it makes human beings believe that mustard seeds, when planted, can give us speech to remove mountains because we don’t doubt in our hearts.

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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