I think faith is one of those things that everyone thinks everyone else’s is stronger, deeper, more alive…When the truth is we’re all getting on with it as best we can, and probably someone else is thinking the same about you!
Even the apostles asked for stronger faith – and they were there, in the flesh, with Jesus…
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Make our faith stronger!”
6 Jesus replied:
If you had faith no bigger than a tiny mustard seed, you could tell this mulberry tree to pull itself up, roots and all, and to plant itself in the ocean. And it would!
7 If your servant comes in from ploughing or from taking care of the sheep, would you say, “Welcome! Come on in and have something to eat”? 8 No, you wouldn’t say that. You would say, “Fix me something to eat. Get ready to serve me, so I can have my meal. Then later on you can eat and drink.” 9 Servants don’t deserve special thanks for doing what they are supposed to do. 10 And that’s how it should be with you. When you’ve done all you should, then say, “We are merely servants, and we have simply done our duty.”
Jesus tells some strange stories. Some that appear at first glance to be quite heartless. This seems quite hard on the servants – but that was their job. In whatever our employment is, we expect to be given one task and another and another. We have a contract, there are expectations, a job to be done. You would not expect the MD to invite you in for coffee and a sit down every time you have completed one of your tasks. You just get on with the job you are employed to do.
Presumably this little tale is to explain about faith, and getting stronger faith. And Jesus is saying
Just get on with it!
Is having a stronger faith something God can do for us? Or something we get by doing stuff that requires faith? The more we use, the more we find we’ll have. Using faith grows faith. If we sit around waiting to have enough faith, we’ll never do anything, if we go out and do something, we may be surprised how much faith we have. We can stay home and pray for it – or get out and do it.
This passage follows on from the part about “how many times should I forgive my brother?” Perhaps knowing they need more faith comes from Jesus’ response to that. And in itself perhaps that is a prime example of doing not thinking. If we start thinking about how we can forgive someone, we will probably never get on with it. If we just do it, we might discover it is so much easier than we thought.
I was tempted to add a song praying for faith – but that seems at odds to what I’m saying…
So, instead I’ve gone for this
sometimes it is not easy to understand the stories Jesus told.
we were not there,
we can’t see the look on his face,
or where they were at the time.
But we know we all long for more faith,
we want to know you more,
serve you better,
be sure of the way you’re calling us
– but sometimes we just have step out in faith
to trust you
and what we know of you.
as I long for more faith,
may I step out in your faith,
may I work with what I already know of you,
know that you won’t abandon me,
but love me.