‘Probing Deeper’ Meditations: 17. Overcome my Unbelief
Mk 9:24 “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’
I think if you suggested to most Christians they suffer from unbelief, they would probably feel slightly offended. On the other hand if you gently asked many Christians, “Do you think you’d like your faith increased?” they might answer positively. Some of course may look a little confused, not being sure of the difference between belief and faith. Just in case you aren’t sure, James gave us the answer by declaring, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?” (Jas 2:19,20) In other words you can believe but unless belief is turned into action it is not faith.
Now we need to look again at this for Jesus has just said, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” So believing is certainly the starting point. People had to start by believing in Jesus and when they acted on that belief and came to him seeking help, that was faith.
But there is also something both simple and profound here. We can apparently know with our mind but that isn’t enough, we need the help of the Spirit, for example repentance, faith and here, simple belief. When we pray over one another (if we do), do we do it with a firm expectation that the Holy Spirit is going to come quite clearly in power to bring release, healing or whatever else is needed? Or do we just perform a ritual of words? Just something else on the curriculum of the kingdom.
The starting place has to be patent honesty. This man who came to Jesus was pleading on behalf of a demon possessed son who had been like this since childhood. Now children don’t get ‘possessed’ unless their parents open the door to the enemy and so somewhere they has been an opening to the occult in this family but, like so many, this man seems ignorant or lacking awareness of what has causes this. Thus he comes to Jesus but is honest enough to say he does believe but yet the level of his belief is not enough.
Now the wonderful thing is that Jesus doesn’t go into a condemnatory diagnosis about causes but simply, after a little further teaching, delivers the boy. Honesty is turned into confession and this, quite clearly, is the sufficient starting point for Jesus to act. Whatever the situation before us, as far as our part in it is concerned, honesty must be our starting point, the acknowledgement of the limitation we recognize in ourselves, a limitation which is not in Jesus. We may be limited but he isn’t and he longs to remove that limitation in us, but he needs us to acknowledge it and ask for his help.