Wake up call: bible verses are not band-aids for bullet wounds

Aligning to the truth behind hollowed-out words

Angela Ide, Opinions Editor

I recognize that as I write this article, that not everyone reading this will be on the same faith journey that I am on, but as a Christian who has made many mistakes and has been lovingly called out for my actions and inactions. I feel a need to share the same loving truths now with my own church community. In a time of reflection on the past year and with an eye on the future. If we are to ever move towards God’s kingdom, we need to fully understand where we are now and what we are aligning ourselves with.

“For I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move and nothing will be impossible,” Matthew 17:20 ESV.

If faith is all it takes, why don’t the mountains in our lives move?

One can almost hear the cries of the hurting responding, “Well, how much faith does it take to feed my family?” while the comfortable look into the offering plates to see if their check can earn brownie points towards a new car.

That sickens me.

Just as in the ancient world — when mountains like Olympus and Sinia were known to be the dwelling places of the gods and structural powers — there seems to be a lot of idols and worshippers looking down from the mountains, condemning those in the valleys, all the while, neglecting their call to make any positive impact outside of their glass-houses and manicured lawns.

But this passage in the gospel of Matthew is not about faith.

No one’s faith can move mountains. “Faith” is a hollow word substituted for the Greek originally written. The word, pistis, actually closer translates to trust and alignment.

Alignment and trust is the entire message of Matthew 17. It demonstrates the possibilities of aligning with God’s kingdom. It all starts with Jesus taking a few of his chosen disciples, Peter, James and John, up to the high mountains to see something absolutely mindblowing.

While at the mountain’s top Jesus is shown in his truest form: Moses, the figurehead for the Law, and Elijah, a revered prophet in Israel’s history appear. Moses, Elijah and God the Father affirms Jesus as God’s Son and Messiah.

For the readers of the Near Eastern world, this is a monumental moment. This confirms and reinforces people’s understanding of Jesus’ authority and mission in the world. Jesus’ relationship to the Living God and Law and the prophets are physically represented at this moment.

This is a life-altering, revival-starting moment that Peter, James and John are allowed to see. Those three do the same thing that many Christians do after they have deep spiritual moments: they want to set up tents and stay on their mountaintop. We find something amazing, wonderful, and we want to hoard it for ourselves.

But that is not why Jesus brought the disciples up the mountain for. He brought them up there to prepare them for what came next.

The story follows that a man brought his demon-possessed son to the disciples, but when they were unable to cast the demon out the man came to Jesus for help. Later, Jesus explained why they couldn’t: they didn’t trust and align themselves with God’s kingdom

Jesus trusted the disciples with the task of healing and ministering to the people, so he clearly knew that the disciples had everything they needed to succeed.

Jesus shared, involved, and trusted Peter, James, and John in the ministry that he lived; he expected his disciples to use the harvest of the seeds that he planted to plant a new field.

Church, right now, the world is in a valley and we need to take what we have been given and us it.

A seed can be a simple hello to a stranger on the street knowing that everyone is missing someone right now.

It can be as important as an ethnic group that has been given every benefit of the doubt with police officers chose to question why other people groups don’t have the same benefits, they are planting seeds of trust and alignment with the kingdom of God. This what replanting looks like.

But when someone — who does not have to walk on eggshells every single day just because a national system has deemed them dangerous — starts criticizing the outcries of people who are hurt and forgotten, they start hiding behind their mountain of superiority. That is when Christians start sitting on the knowledge they have, hoping it will somehow change something.

After reaching the peak of the mountain, the disciples were made ready to help in the valley. Jesus knew that the disciples would have everything they needed to call structural powers and cultural idols to move and they would move. The disciples did not.

But we can choose differently.

If not for the love and care for every neighbor, we, at least, need to check our alignment before we hear judgment for our silence. Jesus will give us the same response he gave his disciples, “O faithless and twisted generation…” (Mt. 17:17)