How to Move God
Matthew 13:54,57,58 Coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue… And they took offense at him. And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
This passage always reminds me of the movie Elf (yes, the one with Will Ferrell). In the movie, Santa Claus’ sleigh was powered by belief. He could not fly if no one had faith in him. In the end (spoiler alert), the heroes of the story inspire many to believe and Santa is enabled to fly.
God of course, is not empowered or hindered by my lack of faith, but still, this is a curious passage. In it, Jesus went to his hometown where people knew him and where familiarity bred contempt. Is not this the carpenter’s son?… And they took offense at him (vss 55, 57).
Up to this point, Jesus had performed many miracles but always in response to an individual’s faith. Your faith has made you well (Matthew 9:22). In his hometown, Jesus could not or would not perform miracles as they did not believe in him.
It seems that God does, at times, move only in response to my faith. It is not that He is dependent on me for power (like Santa), but in his wisdom, He has ordained it to be this way. He first reached out to me so that I could know him, but now, He desires that I respond to him in faith.
So how does this work and what does it mean for me today? It means that if I want God to move in my life, I must exercise faith in him. I must, like Peter, follow Jesus, walking on the water of life while keeping my eyes fixed on him. It is often only after I get out of the boat and obey that I see him work in my life. When my faith fails, I sink. When I turn to God in faith, He is moved to rescue me.
Here is what faith is not. Faith is not me doing nothing and expecting God to move. Following God is not me sitting on the couch playing video games, praying for a job. I do not get to study for a C and pray for an A. Faith means I get up and follow God in obedience. It is only then that I will see God work. He chooses to move often only after I move towards him. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).
In my many defects, I often pray for God to magically fix me. I am usually unwilling to do anything. I do not want to change my life. I just want a painless excision of that which causes me destruction. I do not want to have to move towards God. I just want to stay in the comfort of the boat and be waited on.
Jesus says this is not how faith works. If I want to see God move, I need to rise, get out of the boat and follow him.