the one about faith...
October 7, 2019, 8:04 AM

Sermon from October  6, 2019

Text: Luke 17:5-10

Grace and peace to you my brothers and sisters from God our creator and our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, if you think the last few weeks of hearing Jesus have been tough to listen to, imagine if you were one of the disciples whom Jesus was speaking to and with! Throughout these last few chapters the disciples (and those gathered around them) have heard story after story and pronouncement after pronouncement of Jesus stating some hard truths and not-so-easy expectations.

Parables about how God differs in celebrating those things and people that the world considers ‘lost.’ Stories about somewhat modeling those whom many – even our Lord – would call dishonest. And last week the emphasis of the story about a Rich Man who is sent to the bad place in part because he failed to see, act, and care for those around him – especially the ones who were literally at his front gate.

In fact, the disciple’s frustration culminates not simply from hearing these parables of what life in the kingdom of God is like, but that if someone sins against you and repents, you forgive them. If they sin against you multiple times and then repent multiple times; forgive them multiple times.

In many ways, the disciples are frustrated. Not, I think, frustrated with Jesus’ call, but frustrated about how in the world are they supposed to live into what Jesus expects? How could they possibly have ‘that much’ faith?

And, you know what, I think the disciples ask the very same questions that we do today. We look over and around us and we may see different folks and organizations doing some really big things. Superb things that are just full of faith and life. Where they might be opening their homes for those in need, giving up their paychecks to help pay for young adults to go to college, dropping everything in their life to go and help places devasted by storms to repair and rebuild. Walking with those and amplifying voices of those who are oppressed and taken advantage of by those in power in our world. Standing boldly in the midst of a world that fails to see or is apathetic to care about the creation around us.

And, we’re sitting over here at times and think, “Yeesh, I’m not capable of doing any of that. I’ve got family, people to care for, a job that I need that paycheck to live. Or, what that person did really, really, really hurt. How, O Lord am I to forgive? How, how, how am I supposed to ‘compete’ with that kind of faith?’

And Jesus’ response – if you had the faith the size of a mustard seed… That seems harsh right? Mustard seeds are really tiny, they seem totally insignificant. Not even worth the time and hassle because of their size. It seems like Jesus is chastising or even mocking the disciples.

But, in my reading of the Greek, it isn’t that way at all. Remember, if there is a problem in understanding the text, there’s a good chance the issue lies with the English.

Jesus is basically saying, “If you had faith the size of a tiny mustard seed (and I’m pretty sure you do) then…” Jesus is lifting up the disciples’ faith. Assuring them that yes they do have the faith, the gumption, the hope to live into what Jesus commands. They do have what it takes to live into the kingdom of God, they do have the ability to forgive as their Lord calls.

It won’t be easy – far from it. I don’t think Jesus ever makes the assumption that what he asks for is easy. So, don’t let others tell you differently. This life of faith isn’t easy to live into every day – but, it sure is worth it. Worth it to see others filled with life and love. Worth it to see God’s work lived out through your hands and through the hands of those around you. It’s worth it to see love in action, especially when it is difficult.

Jesus tells his disciples that yes indeed they do have that kind of faith. But, the faith that uproots mulberry trees and plants them in the sea isn’t really the flashy stuff that others like to show-off. The faith that ‘moves the unmovable’ isn’t always some big spectacle of goodness shown to the world.

It just isn’t. I’m not entirely sure that someone has seen God’s life, love, and truth from some grand display of faith. Kind of like I don’t think anyone has ever been ‘changed’ to think differently on a subject because of an argument they had on Facebook. That’s just not how it happens.

So, Jesus goes on to tell the story of those under the command of a master doing their work. Doing what is expected of them. Doing what is relatively ‘simple’ in the eyes of those around them. Preparing and serving a meal.

Jesus lifts up those who do the ‘mundane’ work of life and faith. Jesus lifts up the faith of those who do the simple things to further the kingdom of God. Jesus praises those who live into the everyday love, faith, and care to those around them. Jesus lifts up doing the things we are supposed to do.

For those in the story that Jesus shares with his friends, it’s simply providing for the one who comes home. Making a meal; attending to needs; doing what you’re called to do.

In the same way, I believe we can live into those simple acts of faith that do far more for showing God’s love and grace than any flashy act.

Being kind and gentle in the grocery aisle. Being patient and calm while stuck in traffic. Providing a helping hand to those in need. Being respectful of those who are different from us. Showing genuine care and concern to those who are hurting among us. Living into the love of God for all people – no matter what.

Because here’s the thing about those mustard seeds. Yes, they may be tiny, they may seem incredibly insignificant and not worth the hassle. But, do you think any gardener or farmer wants that wild mustard in their flower bed or among their crops? No. They do not.

Why? Because mustard is invasive. It is difficult to get rid of. It spreads quickly. Once it’s rooted, it is almost impossible to get rid of. For us today – especially in our area – it would be akin to Jesus saying, “If you had the faith the size of a seed of kudzu.”

The wild mustard can quickly overtake an entire area. And yet, it may have only started with a tiny seed! That tiny, insignificant thing can quickly become out of control and wreck even the most well cared for gardens and fields.

So too is our faith. At times it may be small, it may seem insignificant. But it adds up. It multiplies. It is fed by and through God’s life and love. It is faith that changes us fundamentally. Changes us to do what is ‘expected’ of us as people of faith because we feel we might ‘get something’ in return, and causes us to do good, faithful deeds of love and grace because of what has already been done. Because of who we already are – God’s very own.

That kind of faith. That live in faith day in and day starts small. It looks insignificant. It takes root and spreads out of control.

You have faith that can move mountains. That can uproot trees. That can move the unmovable. You have faith that spreads out of control like mustard. You have faith that spreads and covers like kudzu.

You have faith. Live into that faith. It’s worth it because of what God has already done. Amen.

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