Can your faith move mountains?

mountain moving faith

I cringe when I hear Christians throw Bible verses around flippantly. Often those comments are made unintentionally and harmlessly, but I can’t help myself. I am passionate about the word of God and passionate about theology. Therefore, when I hear Bible verses shared out of context, I get a nervous twitch. 

One person’s harmless misunderstanding of the Bible can be very dangerous to another’s faith. Many distorted opinions of God’s character and nature are the result of carelessly modifying a Bible verse slightly while sharing it with a friend.  (Relax. I’m not going to mention anyone by name in this article.)

It’s easy to do when only using part of a Bible verse to make a point in conversation. In fact, I’ve done this on occasion myself.

My biblical twitch becomes a theological spasm when I hear Christians talk about a “faith that can move mountains.” This idea comes from Mark 11:23. [Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.][1]  

This Bible verse is very important to our understanding of authentic faith.  So, it’s only natural that this verse would often come up in conversations about faith.  Unfortunately, I sometimes hear the idea that “your Christian faith can move mountains”.  If someone has suggested that your faith can move mountains, let me point out the verb tenses in Mark 11:23. 

Who can move mountains?

The power behind this verse lies in the imagery it evokes.  It’s ridiculous, almost laughable, to think about a mountain getting up from its base and plunging into the sea.  Mountains don’t move!  That’s what makes them so powerful and majestic.  Nothing and no one can move a mountain!  You can spend the rest of your life with a shovel and wheelbarrow and not make a dent on the side of a mountain.

I am convinced Jesus used this as an analogy of the Christian faith with his followers because it is humanly impossible.  He wanted them to picture in their minds a scenario where no amount of physical effort can make the slightest impact- thus the imagery of moving a mountain.  

It is impossible. Therefore, the idea of a mountain being lifted off its base and being dropped into the sea is beyond impossible (if there is such a thing) in most of our minds. 

Like any good analogy, the imagery sticks with us long after the conversations is over.  If we were in the crowd listening to Jesus that day, there is no question we would ponder his statement on the walk home.  

Did Jesus really mean what he said?  If he was serious, how do mountains move? What is the relationship between faith and moving mountains?  

Making faith the source of faith

Sometimes we overlook the sheer impossibility of this verse when sharing it in conversation. Just like no amount of physical effort can move a mountain, so also can no amount of human spiritual effort move mountains.

Jesus makes this abundantly clear at the end of the verse. His verb tense explicitly demonstrates that the mountain is being moved on your behalf. You are not moving the mountain. Your faith is not moving the mountain. God is moving mountains.

Understanding the theology of this verse is like threading a needle.  Follow the logic in this verse with me: We serve a miraculous God. Moving mountains is a miracle. God alone can move mountains. He is willing to move mountains on behalf of his children. God expects us to trust him completely, without a shadow of doubt in our hearts, in order for him to move mountains out of our way. 

Here is a suggestion to keep in mind when discussing mountain-moving faith in the future: Always include Mark 11:22 in the discussion [Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God.”]  Looking at mountain-moving faith through this verse reminds us not to leave God out of the equation.

This prevents us from putting faith in faith itself, rather than in God. Starting with Mark 11:22 clears up the confusion with Mark 11:23. Jesus makes it unmistakable that we are to have faith in God alone. Therefore, verse 23 doesn’t leave the door open to make our own faith the source that moves mountains. 

Making Mountains 

Up to this point, I have covered the dangers of a sloppy mountain-moving faith. Now, let me discuss the other side of the equation. Jesus wants us to believe that God has the power to move mountains. God’s strength, not the strength of our faith, is Jesus’s source of mountain-moving faith in Mark 11:22-23.

In order for you to have a mountain-moving faith, it must start with a mountain-moving God. If our God created the mountains, then certainly he also has the ability to move the mountains that he made.

This idea is beautifully and vividly expressed in Amos 4:13. [The one who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, the one who makes the dawn out of darkness and strides on the heights of the earth. The Lord, the God of Armies, is his name.[2]

Please keep these two realities in mind when you face challenges as tall as mountains this week. If you are a child of God, you have a Father in Heaven who made the mountains. Your Father loves you and wants your absolute trust in his power and his goodness. If you firmly believe both of these truths, you can ask your Father to move mountains!

[1] Christian Standard Bible. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020. (Mark 11:23)

[2] Amos 4:13

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