Does the title of this post go against everything you’ve been brought up to believe? Does it raise fear or ire inside you? After all, Jesus said “Your faith is too small … if you have faith no bigger than a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there!’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:20) Revised English Bible. We should be relieved that this is all that’s required of us. What more is required? After all, Martin Luther changed the face of Christianity when he proclaimed that we are saved by grace, alone.
But this is a very telling passage – at least telling for some of us. The mustard seed is a pretty small seed. Somewhere, the Bible says it is the smallest of seeds … I don’t know about that, but I know that any seed is small and Jesus said that if we have faith that is no bigger than a seed, we will be able to move mountains.
Have you moved any mountains lately? I haven’t.
I would suppose, though, that a mountain may not necessarily be the physical kind … perhaps a family member who denies Christ has been a mountain until they have been the subject of prayer. I have heard of people praying for the soul of a family member for twenty or more years before they accepted Christ. Then, finally, the one prayed for saw the light and moved their bulk into the church – that mountain can be much more formidable than the physical type.
But what about the title of this post? Is it still nagging at you? So far, I’ve talked about faith even though this post is about belief, but they are intimately tied together because belief is a component of faith, along with trust.
Let’s think about Abraham. His is a great story about faith – especially where belief comes into play.
We first hear about Abraham in Genesis 11:27 – at this point he still goes by the name Abram. In verse 31 we see that his father picked up his own family, Abram and Sarai, and Abram’s cousin, Lot, and his wife and moved them out of Ur of the Chaldees, heading for Canaan. It looks to me that they made it as far as Haran, though, and settled there. This move was solely the decision of Abram’s father, Terah. As far as I can tell, God didn’t play a role in Terah’s decision. The Bible says they dwelt in Haran – which implies that this had become their home. I think they were pretty comfortable there and weren’t thinking about leaving.
In Genesis 12:1 we see God telling Abram to pick up his family and move from their home. Specifically, it says that God told Abram to get out of “thy country,” away from his kinfolk and out of his father’s house:
I shall make you into a great nation; I shall bless you and make your name so great that it will be used in blessings: those who bless you, I shall bless; those who curse you, I shall curse. All the peoples on the earth will wish to be blessed as you are blessed. (Gen 12:2,3) Revised English Bible.
So, what did Abram do? He packed up his wife and his possessions and Lot and Lot’s wife and their possessions and started off on a journey which was entirely led by God. They didn’t know where they were going – God didn’t tell them – they just followed. It turned out to be Canaan, but Abram didn’t know it at the time, nor did he ask questions.
This is a perfect example of believing God. Abram believed God. He believed God would bring them to another land. He believed God would protect them. He believed God would deliver on His promise as recorded in the verses given above. (I do have to admit there came a time when he didn’t believe God or perhaps he just lost patience and the consequences of that has reached us even to the present day – so Abram wasn’t perfect.)
The point is: believing in God is not enough. Anyone can say they believe in God. Something like 76% of America call themselves Christian. From this we can suppose that this percentage of Christians in America believe in God. But I’ll guess it’s only a small fraction of these who actually believe God for what He says, does, warns, promises, or reveals on a daily basis. I’m quite sure that few people think about the difference between the two phrases.
We all need to be more like Abram.We need to believe God. He will see us through – he has promised that he will take care of us – we just need to believe Him.