There’s fellow who was crossing the iced river – terrified – down on all fours – when a cart laden with lumber hauled by 6 great galloping Clydesdales came bursting out of the undergrowth, and onto the ice! The point is that the thickness of the ice had nothing to do with the depth of his faith. All his faith could do is decide is how confidently he was going to be making the crossing.
That, in a sense, is the mustard-seed-of-faith point Jesus makes in today’s reading. After a whole number of teachings on how they were to be living as they followed Him the disciples were feeling – understandably – a little overwhelmed, and so asked for more faith. Jesus’ response to them is today’s reading from Luke 17[i].
The point is that Jesus Christ has already done it all, and that a correct ‘kind’ of faith is one that believes and lives that! It’s done! That’s what He most clearly announced from the cross as He died – remember? TETELESTAI! As Christ followers, what we need do now is not try to do it all again, but instead to live intowhat He has already achieved on our behalf! It’s for us (by faith) to embrace what has already been completed for us and for all peopleand for all creation! THAT’S the Gospel Truth!
But what exactly does that mean, and what does having faith in is this Gospel truth actually do?
We, as a Gospel-believing-people, understand this at different levels, and with different emphases. Our understanding may even change in terms of where we are in our lives! At one stage we may believe one thing about the essence of the Gospel, but then, as we change, or are changed, as we grow, evolve so our understanding may also change, grow, evolve…
Just what exactly is it that you believe having faith in what Jesus has finally already achieved for you and for all creation means?
What do you believe we now have that we didn’t have before the whole Gospel-event of Christ’s birth, life, death & resurrection?
Some of us believe that it’s all about ATONEMENT! We believe that while we’ve been blessed to have been made in God’s image – through the sin of Adam and Eve – our sense of that original blessing has become muddled and confused, darkened …and as a result our ability to own our unity with God and creation has been lost! …that may leave us feeling separated, alone, broken apart and away from any and all meaningful awareness of that original blessing.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is therefore that He would bring us back into an awareness of being once again what God has always wanted us to be – able to own ourselves as once again one with God AT-ONE-MENT! Do you believe that? I do!
Along with that we believe comes the possibility of our fullest possible actualisation! We begin to rediscover within ourselves what God has made us to be – our truest self – what Richard Rohr calls this ‘Immortal Diamond’– OUR SOULS! Rediscovering that empowers us to slough off all those externally imposed roles and behaviours that we have allowed to keep us small… Do you believe that? And once again, Dear God, I do!
Our growth in Christ depends on the extent to which we live into that reality!
Atonement reality! WE ARE ONE!
True-Self-Actualised reality! WE ARE BETTER THAN WE KNOW!
And PANENTHEIST reality! IT’S ALL OF GOD AND FILLED WITH GOD’S HOLINESS!
That, Jesus teaches, is what we need at least this little mustard-seed-bit of FAITH to embrace! The point of our faith is not the attempts we make to achieve these realities for ourselves but the extent to which we are given to trust and to embrace them! Live them! Our faith in the Gospel of Christ is all about the owning & empowering of our, in Christ, God-given identity indicative, that we may live into our, in Christ, God-given imperative!
Oh Boy, that’s quite a mouthful! SO profound, but not complicated! The best effects of the Gospel are not arduous tasks needing to be generated by us so much as this golden truth straining to be caught and then to be lived! It is not something needing our understanding so much as this God-given wonder to be encountered/ experienced!
Remember the mantra that we, the church, have no mission of our own!
…that it’s only God who has a mission and who, in Christ, has us as God’s church to live into and out of that mission! God’s mission is for us to know and to embrace all aspects of whatever Christ has achieved for creation and then live it so that all the world may ‘get it!’
Noticing the huge and desperate needs of the world, and feeling the weight of our responsibility to address all those needs, we may be tempted, along with those overwhelmed disciples, to believe it’s all too much and to pray asking formore faith… But Jesus is still reassuring us that we don’t need a great deal of faith in order to be his faithful disciples. All we need is a willingness – is far as we can – to embrace what Christ has already done and then to be available for God to use us in that work. That’s the faith which Jesus teaches, and by God’s grace, that is enough!
[i] Let’s agree NOT to get stuck here with the slave culture into which Christ was speaking back then. Let’s be very clear that He was simply using an example from something that they knew ina make a particular point – He was certainly NOT endorsing slavery!
[ii]Panentheism (meaning “all-in-God”, from the Greek πᾶν pân, “all”, ἐν en, “in” and Θεός Theós, “God”) is the belief that the divine pervades and interpenetrates every part of the universe and also extends beyond space and time. (Wikipedia)
[iii] Notice, it’s NOT that everything IS God (that would be heretical: pantheism!), but that – and I say it again – because of the incarnation achieved in the birth/life/death and resurrection of Jesus – we can now know that everything is within the all-embracing grace of God who is bigger and over as well as within and all around everything…! Nothing is left out! Nothing is excluded! Nothing and No-one!
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