One of my most embarrassing moments ever happened almost twenty years ago. It was back in the days when the internet and email were still in their infancy.
I received an email from a friend. It was short and to the point. It said something like, “Check out these links.” Of course today, I’d be very suspicious of an email like that. Back in 1999, I wasn’t thinking about computer viruses.
So I clicked on one of the links and the virus immediately sent the same email to everyone in my address book. Hundreds of people where I worked got it. Then they clicked on the link and also immediately sent the email to everyone in their address book.
And the domino effect was on. Every person who opened it, immediately sent it to everyone else. It was a mess. And very embarrassing for me because I was the first person in the organization to click on the link and let the virus in. One little click was all it took to create a nightmare for the IT department.
A few weeks ago, I got a different type of virus. It was a stomach bug. My daughter and grandson had it. Then my wife got it. I thought I had escaped, but then I got it. Something completely invisible to the naked eye had the power to make us feel awful for two or three days.
In Mark 6:1-6, there’s another type of virus at work, one that’s more destructive than a few lines of computer code or a stomach bug.
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Jesus visits his hometown and goes to the synagogue to teach. Jesus had wisdom like they’d never seen before and He could perform miracles. The people were amazed.
But rather than living in the amazement, they start to ask questions. Now questions aren’t bad, but when something doesn’t go our way or we encounter painful or confusing circumstances, we tend to ask questions like:
- Why did God let this happen?
- When are you going to do something God?
- How is this situation going to work out?
I don’t know about you, but God doesn’t usually answer those why, when and how questions for me. That’s why it’s so important to have that rock solid foundation of trust in God’s character. If I know He’s good, then I can learn to live with the uncertainty of unanswered questions, as uncomfortable as it may be. Without trust in God’s character, questions and doubts become like a virus.
“Isn’t this the carpenter?”
Someone else chimed in, “Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon?”
Another asked, “Aren’t his sisters here with us?”
Amazement gave way to questions. Questions led to doubts about Jesus’ real identity. Those doubts led to taking offense at Him. And now they’re infected.
So what happened next?
Jesus could not do many miracles there, because of their lack of faith. Was Jesus’ power somehow limited by the people? Yes and no. No, Jesus did not cease being filled with the Spirit of God. He was still able to perform the miracles the Father called Him to perform in the power of the Holy Spirit.
But yes, their lack of faith was a limiting factor. God responds to faith, not to needs. God wants to be trusted. He enjoys it when we believe Him, not our circumstances. He rewards those who seek and believe Him.
If you’re not experiencing God’s work in and through you, then maybe you’ve allowed a virus in and have ceased to be amazed by Him. Could it be that you’ve allowed your questions to become doubts? And your doubts to hinder your faith…possibly to the point that Jesus would be amazed at your lack of faith?
The negative thoughts and questions we allow into our minds are extremely powerful. Like a virus, they infect us with doubts that can wreck our faith and even cause us to be offended by the idea of believing in or trusting Jesus.
I’ve seen it play out in the lives of people I care very deeply about. It’s heartbreaking.
What about you?
Are you still amazed by Jesus? Are you still in love with Him? Do you still seek Him? Do you delight in Him? Do you regularly spend time in His word to learn how He thinks and what’s important to Him?
Or have unanswered questions led you to doubt Him or even completely give up on Him or to be offended by Him?
It’s never too late to return to Him, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be as those viral thoughts continue to spread through your mind.