Faith of A Mustard Seed

Barbara Woods-Washington 2014

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

‘I woke up this morning, I didn’t have no doubt! No doubt, no doubt, I didn’t have no doubt!’

Lingering on ”, Mark’s exposition of ‘Faith’. “As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Master, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:20-25).

It must not go unnoticed that ‘pisteuete’ used by Jesus here for ‘believe’ is our root word pistis/faith. This gives us, in fact, two different word translations for Jesus’ double usage of ‘Faith’ in Mark’s ‘The Meaning Of The Withered Fig Tree’. Although we have always somehow known the equivalency of the words faith and believe, here is the now to look closer.

Both active and passive are the senses of faith=belief (pist-) derivatives in Classical Greek. ‘Trusting’ -‘worthy of trust’; ‘obedient’ -‘obey’; ‘reliable’ -‘rely’; ‘certainty’; ‘fidelity’; ‘confidence’; ‘assurance’; ‘conviction’; ‘dependable truth’; ‘firm belief’; ‘guarantee’; ‘security’; ‘contractual relation’ are all among the various meanings given in it’s usage. Although it never reaches the religious realm, several of the great Philosophers identify faith=belief as “a higher endowment than wealth”.

Faith as a religious concept was promoted in Hellenism as the various missionaries identified their deities and demanded faith in them. In this mix, standing strong in a long religious Old Testament heritage for which faith is seen as a ‘contractual fear/trust relation to God’, Jesus emerges with the diety clearly identified— “Have Faith in God! Believe in God!”

The belief systems in our times is challenged by how difficult it is to find and know TRUTH. Next to impossible to even hold a conversation concerning what the ‘Right Thing’ IS… let alone what the Right thing is… TO DO. Clearly, God is not pleased… identified in the historical record setting Hurricanes flooding the planet. The Fires ravaging; Massive Mud Slides and Ice Melt Downs not witnessed before —ALL reeking havoc across the Globe. Coupled with the most ‘DOUBTED and Doubtful government, perhaps in the history of this Nation. EVERYONE’S response… to EVERYTHING is… “I don’t know”? I posted this week on Facebook from Katt Williams: “Church is not answering ANY QUESTIONS about ANYTHING at this particular time. Feel free to come in and Praise and Worship all you want. Any by all means, pay ‘yo Tithes. But if you have any questions for Jesus, you should ask Him, in the parking lot, on the way back to ‘yo house!”

Although Peter was distracted by the withered fig tree, Jesus pricks his consciousness by calling his immediate attention to God— “Have Faith in God! Believe in God!” By the double usage, Jesus goes beyond hearing— ‘Peter’s ears’ and moves this saying to ‘his mind’— think on this thing— “Have Faith in God! Believe in God!” Had this saying reached ‘Peter’s Heart’ (as in John’s Gospel where He finally had to say to Peter 3 times— “if you love me, feed my sheep!), the Denial and the return to Fishing might not have come.

I remember with warmth the look on my grandmother’s face when she sang this song— “Only believe. Only believe. All things are possible, only believe.” I can still feel the power in the affirmation of faith sung in this verse as it took the singing worshiper to a whole other level— “Lord, I believe. “Lord, I believe. All things are possible, Lord, I believe”.

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