Summary: What do we do when we don't have all the answers? What happens when we say I believe but I need help? This message looks at some of the deeper questions of our faith and challenges us to place a greater dependence on God.
“Dangerous Intersections -When Faith and Doubt Collide”
I learned this week that of all the traffic intersections in America that the most dangerous intersection in the nation is right here in Florida. Shouldn’t surprise us. Florida manages to be first in a lot of things and seems to get in the news pretty often, usually for the wrong reasons. We held up a presidential election and had the entire nation watching us because of hanging chads in 2000. All of America was watching Florida. I love Florida, that’s why we have stayed here for 15 years now but maybe it shouldn’t surprise us to learn that the most dangerous traffic intersection in the nation is found in Pembroke Pines, Florida. In a two year study at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Pines Blvd. There were 357 accidents. That’s an average of one every other day for two years. That is one dangerous intersection.
People who are driven often arrive at these dangerous intersections in life. It is like a crossroads. It is a place where difficult decisions have to be made, our faith is tested. It is what Dr. Henry Blackaby in his book, Experiencing God calls a crisis of belief. And he reminds us that when we get to this intersection it takes two things for us to navigate through safely. It takes faith and action.
In this passage we read today we find the story of a father who brings his son to Jesus to be healed. This man’s son has suffered since childhood so we assume that now he is a bit older, however he is still in the care of his father. When the father brought him to the disciples they prayed over him expecting that he would be healed. We know from previous passages in the scripture that Jesus had given them the authority to do this and they had been successful at other times. But this time they seem to be in over their heads. They pray and nothing happens. Has that ever happened to you? They prayed and laid hands on him and spoke the Name of Jesus but nothing changed. When we face these kinds of dilemmas our faith is certainly tested.
Jesus now arrives on the scene and he notices the disciples are arguing with a crowd of people. We don’t know for sure what the argument was about but we can imagine that if the disciples were unable to cast out this demon and heal this young man then the teachers of the law may have said if YOU can’t and you represent Jesus, then why should we believe HE can do it? They were not only questioning the disciples they were questioning their Master. And that puts it all on an entirely different level. On Wednesday of this week I was quietly preparing my Bible study for Wednesday night in my office when I heard a man shouting .... and he just got louder and was using every profanity you can imagine and he was directing most of at Jesus saying terrible things. Obviously I won’t repeat the words he used but he called Jesus terrible names and it seemed that he was getting violent. So I had to physically takes him by the arm and escort him out of the building. He did leave but he continued to shout profanities at me, the church and at my Savior. We do not have to look far to find people who are deeply troubled and in need of the very one they doubt and reject, Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ response to what is happening in this story is really directed at the disciples, not the man who needed healing. But his words seemed to be directed also at the young man’s father. Listen to what He says, v. 19. Most people agree that this boy must have had epilepsy. Look at the signs.
* a spirit seized him
* threw him to the ground
* he foams at the mouth
* gnashes his teeth
* becomes rigid
It seems to me in dealing with this matter that the disciples made the same mistake that the we make today: we assume that we can do the work of God in our own power. They were using the right words, almost like it was a magic formula. They placed their hands on the young man the same way they had before. They followed the example of Jesus but something was missing. And here it is: there was no power. Same words. Same actions. But no results. Here it is : if there is no prayer there will be no power. If there is no ongoing relationship with Christ through prayer then there will be no deliverance from the things that hold us back. We can follow the formula but there will be no filling. We can go through the ritual but there will be no renewal. We can say the words but we will still be waiting for an answer. It’s this simple: without faith you cannot experience God’s power.