I believe - help my unbelief!
"Being a Christian is not about how much faith you have, it's about who your faith is in."
Christians sometimes think thoughts like this:
- When I pray, am I just talking to myself?
- Do I really believe what I'm reading?
- Am I sure I'm truly sorry for my sins?
At some point, we all have doubts, although some of us tend to have more than others.
Thankfully, God is greater than our doubts. The fact that we turn to him at all is only possible by his gracious action in our hearts and minds. And in the end, we are not saved by the strength of our belief but by the cross of Christ. We’re not saved by our own certainty about Jesus but by God’s act of mercy in history to save us and show himself to us.
Being a Christian is not about how much faith you have, it's about who your faith is in. Even if it's just a small amount of faith!
The man with little faith
There’s a story about Jesus from Mark 9 that is really relevant here. A boy has an evil spirit that's made him mute for years and throws him into fits. The boy’s father desperately brings him to Jesus after the disciples tried but failed to heal him:
And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”.
And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us”.
And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes”.
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”.
And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again”.
And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead”. But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose (Mark 9:21-27)
Isn’t that incredible? The man says, “If you can do anything, have compassion…” and I love Jesus’ response: If you can? What do you mean, 'If you can?' Trust me!
And the man wants to believe. He says that great line, “I believe - help my unbelief”.
Jesus doesn't wait until your faith is 100%
He’s saying that he believes Jesus in some way but that he’s shaky about it and needs help to believe more strongly. And Jesus doesn't wait until the man has no doubts at all - he just goes ahead and heals his boy.
I don’t think there’s any greater cry of dependence (that is, faith or trust) than the man's words, “I believe - help my unbelief”.
No Christian has perfect trust in God and there are lots of enemies of God in this world seeking to undermine our sometimes tiny faith in him. But we don’t need to worry. God has saved us by his grace in Jesus Christ - we just need to keep saying to God, “I believe - help my unbelief”.
Edited from a Q&A, with thanks to http://www.christianity.net.au