During my trip to Israel, we were reminded of the mustard seed scripture when we visited the Herodian. This is a palatial fortress built by King Herod the Great sometime around 20 BCE. Out of a desire to make this fortress look like something his enemies would not want to approach, Herod built it to look like a volcano. In essence, he built (moved) a mountain and then placed a city inside of it. As with so many of the other sites we were at, visiting Herodian required a lot of climbing and walking. Getting water into the mountain was a major accomplishment for the builders, requiring tunnels and cisterns. Apparently, though, the water system worked well because Herod included a couple of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” swimming pools in his design. Josephus wrote that Herod the Great was buried at the Herodian. I suppose it is as good of a place as any to be buried but, fact is, if he’s still there, they haven’t found him … yet.
Herod moved a mountain and I think we all have to question how big his faith was. Herod’s faith, even down to proclaiming himself “The Great,” always seemed to be in himself, not in God. (Having an unlimited supply of slave labor that he probably didn’t care a fig about undoubtedly had some bearing on things as well.)
In my case, though, if mountains are to be moved, it will definitely not happen with faith in myself. I can’t even make my car move if it doesn’t want to run that day. No, if I am to have anything to do with mountain moving, it will be because I have turned the matter entirely over to God and He moves the mountain! In fact, all I do is get in the way when I try to control things myself. Proverbs 3:26 says that the Lord is my security, my confidence. God clearly calls us to put our faith in Him, one of the biggest steps we can take in our everyday lives as Christians. It’s interesting when you think about the levels of faith. Many people, the majority of Americans in fact I am told, have something at least akin to faith that takes them to the point of believing in God but the faith that goes with completely turning your life over to God, and truly realizing that He is in control and that all we have comes from and belongs to Him, is something that would probably not score as being real “common” in the latest Barna survey.
What does today’s church do to build that faith in people? The church I attend now does a great deal to encourage people to give it all to God and let their faith lie with their maker. But, frankly, the churches I grew up in, at least from a kid’s perspective, were pretty much only about “right” and “wrong” – there was no point in thinking about a faith journey; “callings” were only for those in professional ministry and they came in the form of some mysterious night dream.
The resulting picture I had was that of God as the almighty judge, doling out only two statements -- either “Good job, you kept my commandments. You’re in,” or “Sorry about your luck, Chuck. You really should have tried harder. You’re outta here!” Almost like a heavenly Donald Trump. (Okay, I confess, it made me laugh to write that sentence.) While the “black and whiteness” of God is still paramount in my mind, I do see now that God is calling us all to follow him, not just in a symbolic way but in a very real and personal way. In return for the love and grace He extends to us, how can we not pick up our cross and follow Him where He wants to lead us? God ultimately will accomplish what He wants to accomplish. Will I be a part of that or will I be in the way? Will I use His power and move mountains or just my power and shuffle stacks of paper around on my desk?