Sunday 06 October 2013

Bible Book:

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you.”’” (vv. 5-6)

Luke 17:5-10 Sunday 6 October 2013


It was a great summer of sport - if you are British. No longerfollowing our national teams and heroes with our hearts in mouths,we can turn on the tennis or the cricket or the Tour de France withhigh expectations that our athletes will do well. As Britons wehave shown ourselves that we can do it - the obstacles in our mindshave been replaced by a new found faith - we can win internationalcontracts; we can welcome foreigners to Britain; we can trust ourathletes to perform.

Is this the attitude that Jesus commends to his followers? Theyask him, 'Lord, add to our faith' (verse 5). His answer seems to beof no help - in fact he seems to tell them off for not havingenough faith: If you had faith as small as a mustard seed you wouldhave the authority to make the most unlikely things happen (verse6).

For Luke's Gospel the point of this collection of sayings seemsto be made explicit at verses20-21: "The kingdom of God is not coming with things that canbe observed … for, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you". Inother words: stop fretting about having faith, and act in faithinstead: run like you believe you can win; live like you believepoverty should be history; report trolls as if gender justice wasabout to dawn; let go your resentments as if forgiveness were thefinal reality.

Verses 7-10 reinforce the point. From our context we find itdifficult to read references to slaves in Scripture without raisingimportant questions about human dignity. For Jesus though, thepoint is that even slaves don't need telling what to do. In thesame way, the disciples of Jesus should stop hanging about waitingto be told to get on with the obvious tasks of being the householdof God - instead (as Luke's Gospel has already made clear) weshould use our resources to deal with poverty (Luke16:19-31), to take our personal relationships seriously (Luke16:18), and to let our resentments go (Luke17:1-4).

To Ponder

  • What do you think Jesus and his disciples are talking about inverses 5-6 - faith in God or faith that things can be different?Why?
  • As you read Luke's Gospel, what picture of God's kingdom do youget in your mind? And how might you enact it in your dailylife?
  • Jesus seems to imply that fretting about having faith does notincrease it, but acting in faith produces results. How has actingin faith affected your faith?

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