A Mountain of Difference
This is what I call a Gamer-Changer: when a scripture that you’ve interpreted one way, suddenly means something entirely and deeply different, and you can’t believe you’ve never seen it that way before. And because it means something different to you now, marks the fact that you are different now—thinking within a larger framework, and you find yourself inclined toward, and wanting, different things.
Scriptures, like say, this one:
“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” (Mark 11:23)
What an intriguing verse! Could it really mean what you hope it means?
You are in the process of a transformation which is becoming more and more complete—filled more and more fully with eternal life. How you interpret this verse is like a litmus test which reveals the fullness of that life in you.
You proceed with the certainty that there is no condemnation in Christ and that there is no shame in being immature; you realize, however, it really would be such a shame to be forever immature.
When you were young—when you were a beginner, the way we all start—this verse appealed to the new, worldly self that you came to Christ as. Christ knows this state, He planned for this state—He came to you and to everyone, and sought you out as you were in this state—this endearing, self-centered, small-minded, yet so-adored-by-Christ-state.
And this verse hooked you because of the way you turned it to mean something that further affirmed your self-centric understanding of everything. God in His wisdom set this verse before you, and right or wrong, you were drawn in because of what you hoped it meant. You claimed it. You clung to it. You said you had faith because you wanted it to be true. It became your strength. And your incomplete understanding of it perpetuated a life of further incompleteness.
In this self-centric state, the mountain meant “Anything that keeps me from personal success”.
It was not a wrong interpretation, but it is infinitely far away from being fully right.
In your young faith, you came to believe the mountain must be something like monetary poverty, and lack of opportunity, and failure, and weakness. And so you spent all our time praying against only these things.
Again! It wasn’t wrong, until it affirmed that wealth and success and strength were the only things you wanted. It’s wasn’t your fault—they were the only things you knew how to want.
Then, one day, the world revealed in an undeniable way, that your interpretation of that verse was untruthful. It simply could not be. And not long after that, a new understanding was whispered, “The mountain is anything that keeps you from salvation”.
And soon, you actually start wanting salvation! Who knew? You want this new, real thing because God gave you this new desire—He took His heart’s desire and placed it within you, too (another verse you’ve completely misinterpreted).
Suddenly, you realize the mountain is actually pride, distrust, unbelief, bitterness, guilt, apathy, the inability to forgive, or the worship of self-perfection; because what you really want is a Savior and His life of un-threatenable contentment, and you’ve experienced that all those other things get in the way of it. And you see that the higher and faster you try to overcome this mountain by your very self, the steeper and more slippery it becomes, and finally, you realize it is a mountain that must be leveled and thrown into the sea by God alone.
So in your longing for this new thing, you look at your impossible mountain separating you and the kind of saved-living you really want, and you wait for Him to cast the mountain into the sea. And you wait… and hope.. And…… one day, either whiz-bang or still and quiet, it happens. Yes, it happened! God did what He promised He will do! It’s true! The Bible is true!
And somewhere in the back of your mind, you know that that mountain was just the first of a long range ahead of you, but you press on because you know without a doubt now, that God is alive, and true, and powerful, and knowing, and He desires you—He desires you forever. So you’re less overwhelmed by what you know is ahead.
Now you want to shout to your Christian peers: “There is no shame in how you have interpreted various scriptures. He is not wanting that you should be poor and sick; yet He knows that physical wealth and health can eclipse the longing for, and separate you from, ultimate wealth and health forever. God knew and loved you in your separated and finite state. You couldn’t MAKE yourself understand eternity. But now, let’s strive to not be old and grey and still think that Christianity is for the edification of our stature in this world. Make yourselves humbly willing to consider that Christianity is for something much more triumphant and fulfilling than that. Because it really is!”
“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you…” (John 6:26-27).