Summary: Most people believe that the leadership of a congregation are the people with the strong faith. This is not always the case. Here is a lesson for the faithful to stay faithful.
FAITH FOR THE FAITHFUL
THEME: THOSE WHO ARE FAITHFUL MUST ADMIT A FAITH WEAKNESS.
TEXT: MARK 9:14-29
It seems that in the church those in a leadership position are strong in the faith. The elders, deacons, preachers, and teachers are those who are solid with the faith. This seems to be the perception that most people have of these individuals within the church. It was certainly the mindset that I had when I first came to the church. The elders were the ones with the strongest faith. It was the preachers who demonstrated a solid faith in God and Christ. It was those people who knew the most, who experienced the most, those who had the longest tenure in Christianity. I believed that the people in leadership were the spiritual foundation for numerous congregations. It seemed this way for so long. But I started to notice with my time in the church that this was not the case. It was not always the apparently strong that were the bedrocks of the church. It was not always the elders and the preachers. It was not always the older members or the deacons. It was people that seemed to be the most unlikely who had the strongest faith. There are exceptions to the rule that those who should be the strong ones in faith are in the end the weakest in the faith. The perception is not always the reality. Man sees the world in one way but God sees a different picture.
The picture that the leaders are not always the strongest in the faith started to become clearer to me. I remember my friend James from Texas. James was one of the spiritual pillars of the school. He was highly talented and motivated to serve the Lord. He left a career in nuclear engineering to become a minister. This seems so strong of his faith. He started preaching after school and seemed to have a successful ministry. He was raising a family and helping a great congregation to grow. This was why I was so shocked that his wife left him. What woman would want to leave a man who was a strong spiritual leader in the home and church? She had a good reason though. He met a woman over the internet which ended up becoming an affair with her. His wife discovered this affair through email. She packed her bags and was gone. James is no longer preaching or attending a congregation. What happened?
An elder friend of mine, named Ray also went through a spiritual crisis. He was a strong elder in a congregation for 20 years. Most people in the church considered him to be the pillar in the congregation. He gave millions of dollars to the church. It seemed that he loved the Lord and his church. But he had a major shaking of his faith when he had a heart attack. He told me that he lay on his bed crying because he was afraid of going to hell. He knew he was a Christian, he lived a wonderful life, but when it counted. When it was time to have peace, he was afraid. He had no faith in the gift of Jesus Christ. He had no hope for heaven. He said that he realized that his faith was weak. When he needed his faith, he had none. This man that everyone would have thought to be so strong, in the face of death was quivering in fear. Where was his faith?
You could probably list a few of these accounts too. People who appeared to have a strong faith ended up being weak in the faith. Most of you can recall the falling away from the faith by numerous people. It is a common problem. The faithful are in need of more faith. The leaders need more faith. It is the classic problem that is witnessed throughout the church. In fact, this present day situation is an ancient problem as well. Much has not changed in 2000 years. This is why I want to direct our minds over a Mark passage. It is Mark 9:14-29. Most of us know this story well. It is the story of a father who has a son with a evil spirit in him. The father brings the son to Jesus. And Jesus mentions that if one has faith, then it is possible to cast this demon out of the boy. Most of us know the popular phrase, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Typically, we look on this man as being weak in faith. This poor man, he just wants to believe in Jesus so that his son can be healed. We focus on the weak faith of the father, but really this story is not about the weak faith of the father, but the weak faith of the leaders. It is the leaders that Jesus is upset with and proving a point to. He is pleased with the father, the father shows the right attitude, the perceived weak father, is really the one who has faith right. Because of the father’s faith, Jesus will heal this boy and the evil spirit will come out of him. The problem of faith is not the Dad, but the disciples. It is the leaders who are weak, not the common people.