( A commentary on Mark 11: 11-26)
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area. He looked around at everything and, since it was already late, went out to Bethany with the Twelve. The next day as they were leaving Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs. And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!” And his disciples heard it. They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area. Then he taught them saying, “Is it not written: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples? But you have made it a den of thieves.” The chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it and were seeking a way to put him to death, yet they feared him because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching. When evening came, they went out of the city. Early in the morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.” (Mark 11:11-26)
Our answer to the question of “having faith” is totally dependent upon our perspective. A perspective for some that has no bearing in reality.
When you and I look at our lives, we see many things we would like to change. We would like to believe more deeply, forgive more easily, love with fewer conditions. But when we try to move in that positive direction, we often fall short. Despite our best intentions and honest efforts, we remain stuck in our flaws.
We believe in God, but when it comes to changing ourselves, we try to do it ourselves. We think that our strategy and efforts can break a habit of sin or make us more generous people. But that is seldom the case. What we need is not different plans or more willpower. What we need is a new relationship.
We enter into that new relationship when we entrust ourselves to God, when we admit our weakness and inability to change, and ask God to transform us. When we say Lord, “I have been so hurt by that person that I cannot bend to forgive. I need you to bend me, so that I can let go of this hate. Lord, I am so quick to judge others because of their race, sexual orientation, or political viewpoint, and that fills me with anger. Lord, I need you to quiet those prejudices, so that I can live in peace again.”
If we are to have faith, we need to believe in that love that God has for us. We need to believe that God so loves the world and so loves us that the power of God is available to us in Jesus Christ. We need to believe that we’re in a relationship with a God who cares for us, a God who will be with us in our time of need. Faith has to be personal, believing in a God who cares for us and will act on our behalf.
It is clear that faith is so much more than knowing the Ten Commandments or going to church. Faith is believing in God’s love for us, a love that is deep enough and real enough to be present in our lives.
So, what do you do then, if the love that God has for you seems to be absent in your life? What if you’ve been hurt and it’s difficult for you to believe that God cares? What if you’ve been busy or preoccupied and God’s presence in your life seems far away or even an illusion? What if you have doubts, doubts about God’s real presence in your life and you can’t remember the last time when your faith was personal, when your prayer was real?
The great thing about faith is that we can ask for it whenever we are ready. There are no preconditions because faith does not depend on our love for God but on God’s love for us. We can ask for that love whenever we need it. But it’s important to know what we’re asking for. We’re asking for the awareness of God’s overwhelming love in our life. We’re asking that we might know that God so loves the world and so loves us that faith can be real. And if we have that love, then everything else follows. But if we don’t have that love, then faith is useless. It has no power.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, increase my faith and make my fruitful and effective in serving you and bringing you honor and glory in all that I do. Help me to be merciful and forgiving towards others just as you have been merciful and forgiving towards me.”
If we pray with expectant faith God will give us the means to overcome difficulties and obstacles that stand in the way of accomplishing his will for our lives. If we want God to hear our prayers, we must forgive those who wrong us as God has forgiven us. Do you pray with expectant faith?