In order to achieve anything in life we have to believe. Not only do we have to believe but we need to surround ourselves with others who believe as well. This is such an important lesson for us in today's turbulent times. In order for a brighter tomorrow to dawn, we must believe. Miracles happen, people are healed, countries are changed, souls are transformed when we believe.
Belief is so important that Jesus found himself not able to perform miracles and do great works because he was surrounded by people who did not believe.
In Mark 6:1-6 we find Jesus somewhere between the age of 31 and 32 years back in his hometown. Several months prior to this particular visit, Jesus was also back in Nazareth. During that visit things did not go well. Just like this time, in his prior visit Jesus was teaching and preaching in the synagogue. In Luke 4:28-29 we see that his words were so earth shattering then that the folk literally ran him out of the church with the intention of throwing him off a cliff.
Miracles happen, people are healed, countries are changed, souls are transformed when we believe.
So here he is again back home. Mark 6:1 says that his disciples followed him. I can’t say that I blame him. Given the course of events that transpired the last time he was home, it had to be of some comfort to him to have his boys with him. We don’t know exactly how long he spent at home, but Mark 6:2 says that when the sabbath was come, that Jesus began to teach in the synagogue. He returned back to the site of his attempted murder. What did he find when he got there? He didn’t find the physical hostility that he faced before. This time he faced something that in my opinion was much more hostile, much more dangerous. He faced an epidemic of unbelief and as a result “he could there do no mighty works.” This is astonishing to me. From Mark 6:5 we could infer that our belief is a prerequisite for Christ to do great things in our midst.
Just like Jesus was facing an epidemic of unbelief in his hometown, we are facing a rising and growing tide of unbelief in the world today. Folks are increasingly deciding to lean on their own understanding instead of trusting and believing in God.
Atheism is on the rise. Apathy is the sentiment of the day. The irony of this is that in in the insistence by some that there is no God they are asserting a belief system that is stronger than a lot of people of faith. Atheism is indeed a religion one of the largest in the world.
Back in the text, we find Jesus preaching and teaching at the synagogue, facing an outbreak of unbelief among the folk in attendance. I contend that there were three different types of unbelievers present that day which contributed to the epidemic of unbelief that rendered Jesus unable or more correctly put, unwilling to do mighty works.
1) The ignorant
The first kind of unbeliever is “The Ignorant.” This is the most benign type of unbeliever – those who simply don’t know Jesus. Everyone, including Born Again Believers, are guilty of that charge at one point in their lives. The good news is that folk do not have to stay ignorant. They can come into a full understanding of God through his Son Jesus and have access to everlasting life and the bounties of blessings bestowed upon those that believe. It is our responsibility as believers to usher the ignorant in Christ into the land of belief through our Christian walk, our testimony and our service.
The unbelievers that were present who were ignorant of Christ unfortunately did not move towards belief. I contend that one of reason they continued to tarry in the land of unbelief was because of the second type of unbeliever.
2) The haters
Urban dictionary defines a hater as:
A person that simply cannot be happy for another person’s success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.
I must confess. I am a recovering hater. I’m a haterholic. God’s got me on a 12 step program at Hater’s Anonymous. He’s even give me a prayer.
“God grant me the ability to be happy for those who are successful, to encourage those who are on their way to success and the wisdom to understand that all success lies in You.”
Jesus was dealing with some haters. According to our definition, in order to be the hatee (the person receiving the hate from the hater), the hatee has to be successful. The hatee has to be perceived by the haters as someone who is doing something noteworthy.
I got a little secret for you. If you want to solve any life algebra equation all you have to do is add God to both sides.
The haters were very vocal in Mark 6:2. They openly hated on Jesus. Who is this man? Who does he think he is? Where did he get these things that he is saying? Where does his wisdom come from? How was he able to do these great works that we hear of?
Mark 6:2 let’s us know that they knew that Jesus was indeed “successful”, so according to the definition that qualified Jesus to be a hatee. Well now that we’ve established that Jesus qualifies as a hatee, what do the haters do to hatees. According to the definition, they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person. Let’s look at Mark 6:3. “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.”
You see haters are experts in life algebra. Life algebra simply says that both sides of the equation of life must always be equal. So if on one side of the equation you got a wise and learned man who has done many great miracles in his life and on the other side of the equation you have a carpenter, a man without an earthly father raised in an ordinary home with no formal education. The two sides just don’t add up.
Haters always like to present an unbalanced equation as their evidence that the success on the one side of the equation is not deserved by the person on the other side of the equation as evidence by their flaws. In this respect, the haters are right.
Success on one side and flaws on the other are not possible to balance the equation of life. One hard and fast rule in algebra is that in order to have an equation, both sides must always be equal and in order to solve an equation you must always perform the same function to one side that you do to the other. If you want to add something to one side you have to add it to the other. I got a little secret for you. If you want to solve any life algebra equation all you have to do is add God to both sides.
If on the right side of the equation you have Peace of Mind and on the left side you have Confusion and Chaos. In order to get Peace of Mind from Confusion and Chaos all you have to do is add God to both sides.
Confusion + Chaos + God = Peace of Mind + God
God can balance any life algebra equation:
Hate + God = Love + God (He can turn Hate into Love)
No Way + God = Way + God (He can make a Way out of No Way)
Pain + Heartache + God = Forgiveness + God (He can turn Pain and Heartache into Forgiveness)
Unbelief + God = Belief + God (He can turn your Unbelief into Belief – Just Ask Him!)
So the next time you come across a hater and they want to expose your flaws in your life algebra equation, just tell them to add God to both sides of the equation to get the real answer that they’re looking for.
Haters don’t believe because they can’t believe in success that is not their own.
There’s a second part of the definition of hater on urbandictionary.com. It reads:
Hating, the act of being a hater, is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesn’t really want to be the person he or she hates, rather the hater wants to knock them down a notch.
This definition brings us to the third type of unbeliever that Jesus faced in the synagogue in his hometown.
Many of the folks present that day, couldn’t believe in Jesus, because they didn’t believe in themselves and as a result they wanted to knock him down a notch and bring Jesus down to their level. They suffered from a case of bad case of inferiority. It’s somewhat understandable. They did come from the wrong side of the tracks. After all they were in Nazareth. Nathaniel asks the searing to Philip in John 1:46, “Nazareth! Can anything good from there?”
Those folk suffered from the same insidious disease that plagues many in the black community today. The most enduring and cancerous vestige of chattel slavery and white supremacy for black folks is self hate or black inferiority. We can’t control what other folk think about us, but we sure can do something about how we feel about ourselves. Using the tenets of life algebra described above coupled with a true understanding of mankind’s relationship to the Creator, whose image we were made in Gen 1:26 will most certainly cure any human being of any issues related to self-hate or inferiority.
Jesus could not do great things because of their unbelief. The ignorant, the haters and the self-haters were chief among the group of unbelievers present that fateful day in Jesus’ hometown.
It’s important for us to understand exactly what belief is. Belief is not an intellectual endeavor. It is not a collection of thoughts. Belief is action. You act upon what you believe. Belief, particularly belief in God, is not solely based upon knowledge. Don’t believe me (pun intended), let’s look at the devil himself. The devil has more knowledge in who God is than any human being ever will. He “knows” what his fate will be in the end. He “knows” who God is and yet, he is still not a believer. He is the CEO of unbelievers. He acts upon what he believes – his own agenda of evil and destruction. He doesn’t act upon what he knows – the omnipotence of God.
As I argued above, belief is a prerequisite for Jesus to do great things in our midst. Belief in God is also a prerequisite to stop the devil in his tracks. In closing, I would like to share with you a brief illustration from a movie I saw several years ago.
A young man was running from a vampire in an old haunted mansion. He was a few steps ahead of the vampire on this winding wooden staircase. As he ran down the staircase with the vampire in hot pursuit, you could see many old pictures on the wall of the stairs. On the wall at the bottom of the stairs was a wooden cross. The young man spotted the cross from a few stairs away. As he approached the cross, he lunged at it, removed it from the wall and jumped from the last few steps to the landing at the bottom of the stairs. He quickly turned towards the stairs and anxiously awaited the oncoming vampire. As the vampire approached, the young man thrusted the cross in his face and yelled “A-ha”. The vampire stopped in his tracks, and slowly inspected the cross in the young man’s hands. He quickly grabbed it from the young man and vaporized it into dust in his hand. The vampire then blew the dust into the young man’s face and said “You gotta believe in this thing in order for it to work!”