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Don’t Be Afraid, Just Believe
I am continually amazed at the ways in which Mark’s picture of Jesus speaks to my heart. Who would have thought that the most dangerous place to be in 1st Century Palestine was Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth? At least, it was dangerous in terms of faith development.
Sure the Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem made it challenging to put one’s faith in Jesus. But, I get the sense that people kind of enjoyed “stickin’ it to the man” and Jesus gave them plenty of ammunition when it came to disregarding the petty rules and senseless legalism of the religious leaders.
But in Nazareth, it wasn’t just a challenge to put one’s faith in Jesus, it was downright impossible! How could one stand up against the people who had known Jesus from infancy? They’d watched him grow up. Jesus had played in their streets. His mother, brothers and sisters were all still living there. If you think it’s hard to go back to your hometown and have people respect you as an adult . . . . perhaps you can understand why it was so difficult for those living in Nazareth to develop faith in Jesus as the Lord of the universe and Savior of the world.
The most challenging part of this for me is realizing that the most difficult place for one to develop faith today may very well be the place where Jesus is best known — the church! After the sermon I was speaking to one of our long term members about how much easier it is for new Christians to “just believe” than it is for us seasoned members. Do these new Christians grow bolder in their attitudes and actions because of their association with us; or do they tend adopt our ways of doing church and just kind of blend in?
Perhaps the best thing all of us “veteran” Christians could do is take a giant step backward away from all our “knowledge” and begin the journey again. Stop listening to all those voices defining and refining the faith; putting limits on the power of God. Listen to the voice of Jesus and he will tell you, “don’t be afraid, just believe” (Mark 5:36).