Pr. Jaynan Clark
Lord I believe, help my unbelief…is an awesome confession of faith in the 9th chapter of the book of Mark. It is an awesome confession of doubt also. It is honest—straightforward and “unalarming” to Jesus. Actually it seems to be most welcome and He jumps on the opportunity to teach to the moment. “If you are able?”…well, Jesus says, “All things can be done for the one who believes.” But the disciples couldn’t do it? And what did they believe?
They seemed to want to believe in themselves more than in Jesus. They wanted Jesus to be the kind of leader they envisioned not the type He told them He was or that He exemplified in His actions. He wouldn’t stay on the high and mighty mountaintop. He stopped Peter in his verbal tracks when he negated his confession that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, but then denied that anything bad could happen to Jesus or to them. His disciples, by group effort, wanted the mission to be about them, their successes, their accomplishments, and their greatness. Evil wouldn’t vacate to their egos and ambitions; it only obeyed Jesus’ command as the One en route to the cross.
One could meditate, pray over, preach and teach the 9th chapter of Mark for years. In its fullness we are told who Jesus is, who the original followers were, and what evil is, who the Savior of the world is and what a disciple is---now and forever. A disciple—a follower—is defined by the One they follow. Arguing with that One about whom He should be, could have been, should have been only leaves us in the presence of evil unable to even recognize it internally and externally, let alone cast it out.
When we give into the temptation to make a Jesus of our own liking… one who will bring us growth, success, happiness, prosperity and pleasure we should have ears to hear Jesus the Christ telling us to get behind Him---Satan. Everybody, even Satan is commanded to be a “follower” of this One… everyone gets lined up behind Him in faith and disbelief.
Gospels of prosperity and pleasure and power and privilege and profit are not new. The first twelve wanted this ministry—this “good news.” Jesus knew so well theirs and our ambitions and love of self that He commanded us to love our neighbor as much as we do ourselves; care as much about freeing the one possessed by evil as you do your ability to perform or not to succeed. Have eyes and ears to direct others to follow the Crucified, Risen One rather than getting them in step with following you. There is no break for anyone here as even those caught up in self-loathing are reflecting their total preoccupation (read as bondage) to their “self.” Jesus knows this about us, about you.
So, be as a child in your faith—children are selfish but they also know that they need to be taken care of by someone. They know that they can’t and aren’t expected to do it all. They sense that what is seen, heard and touched is not the whole picture. Child of God---as a disciple know that your belief and unbelief are to be shared and spoken of with other children as a child. Blurt it out! Speak honestly and openly about your struggles to be faithful, to follow and not lead, to pray and read the Word rather than just say you do it, to cover-up or deny all that which is not “godly” or “positive” or “acceptable” pretending that life in Jesus is without cost, without suffering, without a cross.
Child of God---disciple of Jesus Christ---cry out now in the midst of this world spinning around you with its deafening groans of travail… “I believe, help my unbelief!” “Send me, to your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria… wherever in this world you want me to go.” I suspect your mission field is right at your door, both inside and outside.