American faith teaching gives Christians a lot of liberty in terms of telling God what to do.
With tweets and short videos at our disposal, it’s easy to inject consumers with adages of cool stuff that God can do for us. And we don’t have time to read the whole chapter, or even the context of the verse or Christian saying on our Facebook feed. We just hit “Share” or retweet it so others might see it and agree with the spirituality of the saying, perhaps bolstering our own reputation of spirituality at the same time. It’s a win-win.
Christians love to bring up Jesus’ sayings about how we might get some free stuff and perform awesome miracles. Tell that mountain to move. Ask for whatever want. And you’d better forgive, or you’re not going to heaven — so you over there, forgive me, or else.
This is where it’s at. Jesus is looking like a vending machine, and you don’t even have to put any coins in. You can just say, “COKE!” and believe in your heart that you’ll get one, and out will come a Pepsi, because God doesn’t believe in Coke, but it’s kind of the same thing but not really at all.
I hope you’re picking up the farce here, because that’s what this whole mentality is, in fact.
Can God move mountains? Of course. You’ve seen earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions before. Maybe not first hand, but check your favorite news page and you can see some pictures. Can we ask for things and receive them? Indeed — has He not come through when we cry out to Him in earnest?
But does that really mean we can conduct God like a lightning rod and just dispense His power wherever we go?
I feel like I’ve seen that before.
Ah, there it is.
We have to look at the context of these claims, or else we’re just a son of a sith.
What does Jesus do at the start of this passage? He cleanses the temple because a bunch of people are trying to take advantage of good religious folk to make some quick money.
Jesus’ chief interest is purity. He wants no corruption in His temple. Paul later speaks of our bodies being a temple; therefore, we must avoid corruption from within before we start asking for Jesus to show up and do stuff for us.
In Luke and Matthew’s accounts, the familiar “Lord’s Prayer” shows up. The first two elements of this prayer, in order, are acknowledgement of God’s holiness, and His direction in our lives.
The fundamental problem with praying for our own will is our lack of reverence for God and the dismissal of His authority.
Jesus tells His disciples to pray, and that mountains will move and we’ll receive what we ask for. Indeed they shall.
But the purpose of prayer is to align our purpose to His, not the other way around. If God doesn’t want that mountain to move, it’s not going to, no matter how hard you believe.
Jesus wants your heart first. Your faith in Him is paramount, and it far exceeds any faith in the miracle or faith itself.
Really, when we post Christianese stuff on Facebook, people that don’t subscribe to our religious principles perceive it as arrogant. It’s not your fault. Jesus said we’d be hated. Right?
The reason it looks that way is because we’re telling people to adhere to behavioral standards that they want nothing to do with. We say, “Forgive,” and that looks good and all, but people get angry and you don’t know how hard it’s been and that person ruined my life, they think — and it’s all true.
Peter perceives the fig tree has withered when the disciples return to it, as Jesus had commanded it to do earlier, because it bore no fruit. Jesus responds to his inquiry with the previous two adages, and then briefly discusses forgiveness in context.
It all has to do with fruit, which is impossible for us to produce without God. We mistakenly expect others to bear fruit on our behalf so we might enjoy it, but we don’t drink of the Living Water so we can produce it ourselves for others to enjoy.
True forgiveness is absolutely impossible without God. Our human version of forgiveness looks like putting the gun away but not unloading the bullets. We expect forgiveness back, like our good deed is going to magically make the other person see our side of the story.
That’s not forgiveness at all.
Did Jesus look back at His disciples while bleeding and suffocating to death on the cross and say, “You’d better do the same thing for me, buddy”?
Why would Jesus say that the Father would not forgive them if they couldn’t forgive others? It’s because real forgiveness is born of the Spirit, and not by human efforts, and this kind of forgiveness is only possible if we’re reborn by the same Spirit, after making Jesus our Lord.
And I think that’s the whole point of this thing. We want to conduct those around us, and we want those circumstances to change, but the Lord reigns. We’re not God, and the sooner we remember this, the sooner we’ll start seeing results. Pretty soon, we will actually start getting whatever we want, because it’ll be exactly what God wants.