Faith and doubt are not compatible.

It is unnecessary to talk about Jesus when not believing everything taught by Him. One has to understand what the Christian faith entails, before assuming to be a Christian believer. “And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 NV).

Jesus castigated His disciples for lacking faith. This was before the disciples had received the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we can conclude that the Holy Spirit is not a prerequisite to having faith. Jesus insinuated that it is only a perverse generation that struggles with lacking faith. The Jews could have had faith without Jesus.

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied; “How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment (Matthew 17:17-18 NIV).

The disciples were perplexed by Jesus’ ability to cast out demons. They had desperately failed, but without appreciating the reasons for their failure. They deserve our commendation, though, as they asked a pertinent question, which Jesus, unequivocally, explained as the reason for their failure.

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:19-20 NIV).

Like most of those of their time, the disciples did not have faith. Jesus illustrated that nothing would be impossible if having faith as small as a mustard seed. Without even considering the condition of believing, or not believing, our current civilization is technologically advanced, as to leave ordinary people flabbergasted.

For instance, Bill Gates can be regarded as one who had faith, as little as a mustard seed. He is attributed for having declared that each household would have a computer, at a time when most people disagreed with him. He was not a prophet but he displayed faith, with conviction, in what he understood to be workable.

His prediction was not outrageous, although most people regarded computers as esoteric—designed only for a privileged few. Nevertheless, today, Bill Gates’ dream has been achieved. Several milestones, in human civilization, enhancing the livelihood of humanity have also been achieved.

Such mindboggling achievements include the miracle of nuclear technology, showing that nothing is impossible with humanity. Hence, Jesus mocked His disciples for lacking faith. Among ordinary humans, of that time, none else could understand the human potential, except Jesus.

Nothing is impossible for humans, as long as they appreciate the arcane condition of human origin. The aspect of lacking faith is grandly manifested in not believing what Jesus taught. Why did Jesus talk about such gigantic abilities, with humanity?

Jesus was talking from His vantage point of understanding, linked up with what is Biblically documented. Jesus’ Words were not new but provable from the same Biblical texts, which the Jews, either ignored or did not comprehend.

They may have misinterpreted the Scriptures, due to idolatry, or that they invalidated Scriptural expositors. The complexity of nuclear technology has revealed that humanity’s innate abilities do not consider believing or not believing in God.

With faith, even as little as a mustard seed; humans are capable of achieving anything. The Bible contains information about human abilities, which have to be explicitly defined, for purposes of understanding human intrinsic worth. It is only by choice that humans assume being incapable of achieving results.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26-27 NIV).

Failure to understand the entire Bible starts with misunderstanding the above Scripture. What does God’s image mean? Just by clearing that misunderstanding, the riddle is resolved. That which is created in God’s image carries Godly attributes.

Why would a person created in God’s image claim to be incapable? A person claiming to be incapable would be unbelieving the Scripture about God’s creation. This includes those claiming to be ‘Christian believers’, observed as also manifesting being pretenders, rather than true believers.

From that angle, the origin of all human problems can be identified. Pretenders carry no reason for calling themselves God’s children. Non-believers have made gigantic achievements, in the field of science, and should be regarded as displaying faith, as little as a mustard seed.

Christian pretenders, unknowingly, continue groping in stupidity. They, actually, fight against Biblical expositors, thereby, effectively confirming themselves as charlatans. However, the expositors ought to be encouraged in that Jesus was treated similarly. Nothing satisfies more than being treated like Jesus.

But why do Christian believers doubt, and assume being “Christians”, at the same time? Their appetite appears as in assuming that there is significance in dishonesty. Such kind of behaviour, manifestly, exposes those of a perverse generation. We have to clarify the meaning of the word “perverse”.

The common English Dictionary defines this word as meaning: 1. “Turned aside; hence, specifically, turned away from the (morally) right; willfully erring; wicked; perverted. 2. Obstinately in the wrong: Stubborn; intractable; hence wayward; vexing; contrary.  3. (Legal) Ignoring the evidence or the judge’s opinions.

Lacking faith signifies disobedience against God’s Word, which states that humanity was created in God’s image. In perverse reasoning, humans oppose all spiritual conditions. Hence, Jesus used the word ‘perverse’, to describe such behaviour.

Many factors can cause unbelief, but doubt, which is caused by fear, can be above them all. The Israelites invited God’s anger and God denied them entry into Canaan. Those Israelites got intimidated after observing the towering giants in Canaan (Numbers 14). They invalidated God’s Word, which revealed Men’s Godly image.

A person created in God’s image cannot be intimidated by anything. That is what faith entails. The disciples may have not been aware of their perverse condition. The entire Jewish community had long rebelled against God’s Word. Collectively, the Jews had violated God’s Commandments.

Even today, ordinary people regard themselves as law-abiding, but blindly endorse the wrong behaviours of those in positions of authority. Interestingly, that standpoint is commonly adopted by those who call themselves “Christians”.

The yesteryear Christian traditions are innocently assumed to be Standard, in Christianity. The world labels such blind followers as Christ’s followers. But Jesus identifies them negatively when lamenting their inability to produce results.

They declare being Christians but ignore Jesus’ teachings. What causes their departure is doubtfulness. True believers cannot be commonly identified with those of this world, as they are willing to forsake everything, to follow Jesus.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27 NIV).

Jesus said, with faith, as little as a mustard seed; nothing is impossible. This describes non-pretenders, as achieving greater things, as opposed to Christian pretenders. True believers are those who can perform greater miracles than those performed by Jesus.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:12-15 NIV).

The above Scripture cannot be applied by those unable to comprehend Jesus’ teachings (Luke 14:26-27). This is just as Jesus castigated His disciples for failing to cast out a demon. It takes understanding Jesus, to appreciate the principle of faith.

At one stage, His disciples followed Jesus’ specific instructions, without deviation, and produced results. By carrying out Jesus’ instructions, even without understanding, the disciples produced results. But, notice carefully, their report, on coming back:

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:17-20 NIV).

The above Scripture shows that the disciples were relying on Jesus who had sent them out. They became excited about having been able to cast out demons in Jesus’ name. But bear in mind, at one point Jesus castigated them for failing to do the same.

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied; “How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment (Matthew 17:17-18 NIV).

When left on their own, their inadequacy of faith was exposed. Those disciples had previously boasted about having cast out demons; at which time Jesus reminded them of the stupidity, associated with boasting. Of importance was to keep focused on the significance of their names being written in heaven.

The condition of ensuring one’s name is written in Heaven is obeying Jesus’ instructions. One cannot achieve anything when disobeying Jesus’ instructions. Nothing is impossible for those taking God’s word sincerely.

The most important feature, concerning Jesus’ teachings, reveals problems associated with doubt. Those believing and yet doubting, remain in between two opinions. Such people are of no use to anyone, as fit to be cast away, using the analogy of the salt.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” (Matthew 5:13 NIV).

A marathon runner who doubts cannot reach his destination. However, those undoubtedly focusing on their destinations can be assured of achieving their goals. The same principle applies to the Christian faith. The deadly obstacle in Christianity is assuming to understanding, before duplicating what is said.

Faith is possible, only when one fully understands, without doubt, what one would be engaged in. For instance, Bill Gates declared that every household would possess a computer, based on his understanding. Faith implies believing with understanding.

Nothing else sustains faith. Faithlessness depicts a condition of those of a perverse generation. In other words, Jesus was castigating the idea of having a half-hearted approach to what one claims to believe in.

“These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich, and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:14-18 NIV).

The above Scripture prescribes a doubtful condition, serving to show a wrongful path. There is no problem with either being cold or hot. The problem is in selecting a lukewarm condition, which means lacking faith. One is totally opposed to Christianity when stuck in the condition of being neither cold nor hot.

One is safer, when not pretending to be a Christian believer, but behaving like Bill Gates, in one’s scientific thrusts. However, those believing and are able to put Jesus’ words into practice, without deviation, can even perform better than Jesus (John 14:12).

The most dangerous characters are those pretending to be believers when the opposite would be true. Described as lukewarm, such pretenders are portrayed as belonging to a perverse generation. Systematically, this represents fallacious believers across the world. Humanity is better off with those displaying faith as little as a mustard seed, rather than such fallacious pretenders.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

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