hyperbole and the moving of mountains

Jesus told his disciples, “Have faith in God! I tell all of you with certainty, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ if he doesn’t doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. That is why I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. [Mark 11:22-24 ISV]

The idea of moving mountains is a great example of how Jesus used hyperbole.

Images of hating parents or blinding our sinful eyes are other examples.

These exaggerated statements are never meant to be taken literally.

Yet often, religious people read verses like these and are stymied by them.

I do love that Jesus begins by telling his followers to have faith in God.

Having faith in prayers, or the moving of mountains, is not the same.

There are prayers that are not answered and mountains unmoved.

God is really not in the business of moving mountains for you.

It is why I think that this whole passage may be an example of hyperbole.

Perhaps Jesus is exaggerating to prove a divine point?

It is possible that he is teaching about the futility of selfish prayer.

Teaching an absurdity such as mountain moving may be an indictment.

Perhaps an example of how self-centered prayer can be?

Maybe an exposition of the foolishness of the so-called sin of doubting?

However one looks at it, I think that Jesus desires us to reexamine prayer.

He wants us to avoid being certain and understand that it is okay to doubt.

In that sense, the Lord invites us to come to him with our doubts.

God is interested in the condition of our hearts more than our mountains.

I think that we should be as well.

Of course, the verses preceding these deal with Jesus cursing a fig tree.

More on that another time.

Lord give us grace to bring our doubts and cares to you in prayer.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

the myth of religious karma

The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ [Luke 18:9-14:]

This religious dude seems to have embraced the idea of religious karma.

By that, I mean the idea that our lives are rewarded because we do religious stuff.

His words would be hilarious if not for the idea that this guy should know better.

I sometimes hear religious folks saying things like: 'I don't need luck. I am blessed'. 

It seems to reflect the way that these folks see their lives.

These rarely attribute their misfortunes to being cursed.

Yet the same folks will credit being blessed when things go their way.

In reality, bragging about our blessings often reflects self righteous thinking.

Consider about the saying 'There but for the grace of God, go I'.

Another quazi-self-righteous sentiment.

Life so often resembles luck and has little to do with some arbitrary grace.

Jesus saw it a bit differently when he called poor people blessed.

In the beatitudes Christ obliterates religious ideas of what it means to be blessed.

He really subverts the prevailing idea of what it means to be blessed.

In my view luck seems to be a better description of life.

Some are lucky and born into loving families while some are not.

Many lead healthy lives while others suffer from diseases.

In the end, life has nothing to do with karma.

Some people work hard and are lucky enough to see good results from it.

Some work just as hard and do not see good results at all.

In the end, life is more about luck than it is about religious karma.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.