When I first became a part of a Charismatic church and shared with other friends that I considered myself a charismatic Christian there were often stories of hurt that surfaced from a charismatic Christian experience. A common thread in these stories was that someone had the impression that the charismatic church promoted a certain culture of faith that felt hurtful.
The perceived message was if you just had enough faith then you could receive healing, supernatural gifts from God, or encounter God in miraculous ways.
Many people leave the charismatic church feeling guilt or shame if they don't experience dreams, visions, prophetic encounters, supernatural healings or signs and wonders. Without enough faith, contrary to what Jesus teaches about mustard seed -sized faith, people begin to feel far from God.
The same harm comes from this phrase: all things are possible if you believe.
My problem with it is with the "you" part. Because frankly, following Jesus doesn't have too much to do with us. Although I fully believe obedience and a willingness to go when God asks us to is needed, the only thing required to experience the goodness of God is the unchanging fact that God is infinitely good.
All things are possible with God
We read the phrase, "all things are possible if you believe" in Mark 9. Let's look at the context. First, there is a demon possession that had been going on for this guy's entire life. The disciples try to cast out the demon but they can't. The desperate father approaches Jesus saying that the disciples tried to drive it out but they couldn't do it.
Mark 9:22-24 says, "The demon has often thrown him both into fire and into water, intending to kill him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Jesus said to him, “[You say to Me,] ‘If You can?’ All things are possible for the one who believes and trusts [in Me]!” Immediately the father of the boy cried out [with a desperate, piercing cry], saying, “I do believe; help [me overcome] my unbelief.”
When we're told that all things are possible if you believe, it can feel like an instruction to muster up all the belief inside of you to try to force something to happen.
All things are possible...with God.
When we put our trust and belief in God, giving over even the most impossible situations to Him in the same way this man brought his suffering son to Jesus, we will see that all things are possible. Faith is a gift from God, so we can echo the prayer, "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief," knowing that God can provide the healing, the miracle, and the faith and power needed for it.
It's not about our belief, it's about the One who we believe in.
In the charismatic church, sometimes it's wrongly perceived that the focus is on the gift rather than the Giver. Really, every gift God gives, whether it's an increased sense of patience or a miraculous encounter, is reflective and revelatory of His nature. I want to see more of God's gifts because I want to see more of God. I want to ask God "how much more?" because I believe He can do it. All things are possible with God.
Faith and belief are necessary to live a life with God.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us, "But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him."
Because of His grace and mercy, faith is a gift. A gift, reflective and revelatory of the nature of the generous giver–a God who invites us to draw near in our desperation, because all things are possible for Him, the One we believe in.