Why Doesn't My Faith Move Mountains?

If you like quick-hitting, fast-moving, action-packed stories... let me introduce you to Matthew 17.

It starts with Jesus taking Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain to visit with Moses and Elijah who both (spoiler alert!) been dead for a long, long time. Then after some interruptions from Peter, God speaks to them from a cloud.

And as they leave the mountain, the father of a demon-possessed boy rushes in to ask for help to which Jesus responds with... anger? disappointment? exasperation? Whatever it is, He's clearly frustrated at this "faithless and twisted generation" around Him, but heals the boy instantly.

Jesus' disciples are confused—why couldn't they heal the boy? Jesus answers simply...

“Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20

Jesus finishes up the chapter predicting His imminent death in very plain terms... like we would if we saw gray clouds in the sky and said it was about to rain.

Oh, and then He gets into an argument about money and pays His taxes with a coin found in a fish.

That's all from one chapter out of Matthew. And while there are a lot of confusing and (frankly) unbelievable things Jesus says... one of them has always stuck with me:

Moving mountains.

Is this just a metaphor?
What is faith like a mustard seed?
Why doesn’t my faith move mountains?

If you're like me, your first instinct is to ask for more faith. If only I more faith I could move mountains.

But that's not what Jesus says. He says faith like the grain of a mustard seed (which is quite literally smaller than a flea) can move mountains. The point isn't how much faith you have... it's that you have faith.

Still confused?
You're not alone.
And I'm wondering if the Apostle Paul was too.

When Paul was writing to the Corinthians, and encouraging them to love one another, he talked about moving mountains. (Coincidence? I think not!)

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing."
— 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

And I wonder if that's the key.

I know I'm guilty of separating faith and love—faith is this and love is that... faith is belief and trust and confidence... love is compassion and warmth and sacrifice.

But Paul goes more deeply and connects the two. The person of faith who can lay down their life or move mountains but doesn't love is nothing.

Not something.
Not less than.
Not incomplete.

And when the disciples beg Jesus for more faith, it's immediately after Jesus commands them to love their enemies (Luke 17).

Faith that moves mountains.
Love that forgives enemies.

They're tied together... and in some ways, they're the fruit of each other. Mustard seed faith believes the Gospel is strong enough to triumph over anything. And the clearest evidence of mustard seed faith is whether you love God and your neighbor.

Let's move mountains today... and love God and our neighbor.