“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.” (Luke 17:5-6)
I don’t know about you, but this cry from the Apostles is the one that is constantly on my lips too – “Lord, increase my faith!”
Last night I lay awake again, tossing and turning, stressing about my children, and stressing about our bush camp, Binacrombi. I stress about our visitors having accidents, about whether our team are up to the job, about whether we’ll have enough gas to get us through the weekend, and about whether Bob, the caretaker, is going to be able to recover from his cancer surgery while still insisting on staying active. Why can’t I simply trust that God has all these things in hand and sleep soundly? “Lord, increase my faith!”
I’ve been following the Lord for more than 40 years now and you would think that after all the prayers I have seen answered and after all the miracles I have seen that I would be able to take all these things in my stride and laugh confidently when things seem to be falling apart. I have seen God work miracles for my family and for Binacrombi – not just once or twice but multiple times. When things go wrong, I should simply pray and trust. Instead, I stress and panic! “Lord, increase my faith!”
Jesus says to His disciples, 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.” (Luke 17:6) I don’t think that’s the answer the disciples were expecting, and I’m not sure what to do with it either. How much faith is Jesus talking about when He compares it to a mustard seed, and why would we want to uproot and replant mulberry trees with it anyway?
The response is confusing and a little absurd, and maybe it’s Jesus’ way of telling us that our faith (or lack of faith) is not really the issue. Perhaps the issue is simply that we do the work, which is what is fleshed out in the parable that follows (Luke 17:7-10) – a rather disheartening story about how slaves shouldn’t think too much of themselves but should just get on with doing what their master requires of them.
None of this sounds much like Good News, and yet this wisdom from Jesus is almost identical to the advice we give to young fighters who are looking to calm their nerves before stepping into the ring.
“How do I get my nerves under control?”, they ask, assuming that those of us with ring experience have mastered our nerves and step into the ring as if we were stepping into a sauna. The truth is that every fighter is nervous at every fight. Read the autobiographies of the great champions and let them tell you how they felt going into their fights. Some of the greatest fighters had the most terrible confidence issues and were often in a dreadful state going into the ring.
How much confidence to you need to step into a boxing ring? Just enough to get your foot through the ropes. How much faith do you need to do the work that God has called you to do? I think it’s roughly the same amount – just enough to get your foot through the ropes and on to the canvas. About a mustard seed’s worth.
The Kingdom of God is not about me – I think that’s the point. It’s not about me and it’s not about my faith (or lack of it). It’s about the battle that is raging for the soul of humanity, and our focus needs to be on engaging in that battle. Jesus didn’t promise us that we would enjoy the battle, nor even that we would survive it. The promise is though that, ultimately, we will win.
Perhaps that’s what faith is – a confidence that we are on the winning side. If so, I could still do with more of it. Even so, I’m pretty sure that the real issue, so far as Jesus is concerned, is not how we feel about the fight, but simply that we are in it.
The Sunday Eucharist
The savvy will notice that the video posted below from last Sunday’s Eucharist is not courtesy of YouTube. That’s because I’m in YouTube jail. I’ve been banned from posting or broadcasting on YouTube for a week due to a violation of their community guidelines!
What did I do, you may be wondering? Did I post something pornographic or some image of violence? No, I don’t think that would have been a problem. I posted a video of a nurse in Ireland, expressing concern for the safety of some of her patients who were reacting negatively to certain universally mandated medical procedures. I won’t say more than that here as I don’t want to get into further trouble. This is the world we live in now. There are some things that we are not allowed to discuss.
This week’s Bible Banter has accordingly been brought to you courtesy of Rumble – an alternative video platform to YouTube which seems to have one great advantage. It’s not being censored in the same way the big three are (YouTube, Facebook and Twitter).
I don’t know the back-story of Rumble but it seems to be a platform that still allows free speech. I’m currently in the process of moving all of my 500+ YouTube videos over to Rumble as I only need two more ‘strikes’ on YouTube before my channel is permanently shut down.
Paul and I go back almost 30 years. He was our first youth worker in Dulwich Hill when we went full-time with our drop-in centre back in the early 90’s. Paul has a great track record of working with people on the edge, and he has plenty of expertise when it comes to living in a remote environment too. Even so, he needs your support. Please pray for him.
If you can join us this Sunday, we’ll have the privilege of having our Muslim friend, Tom Toby, bringing us the reading from Lamentations, and Dave Baldwin reading our Epistle, from Paul’s second letter to Timothy. We’ll begin shortly before midday, and you will hopefully be able to connect through all of the usual channels:
Thanks for your support
Thank you again to all those who give financial support through my Patreon account. It is deeply appreciated. If you haven’t signed up yet but do want to contribute, please choose one of the following options at the Patreon site:
- Middleweight Division ($10/month) where you get access to the member site, along with the videos and other resources.
- Heavyweight Division ($100/month) which includes individual coaching, along with software subscriptions to both Buzzious and Streamout, allowing you both to publish an unlimited number of quality blogs and to livestream.
- Super-Heavyweight division ($400/month) includes all of the above plus me training with you one-on-one – at The Fight Lab and at Binacrombi Bush Camp
I’ll be in Melbourne for most of next week. It’s school holidays and I’m taking Fran down to see her sister, Imogen. We will be driving (as the cost of flights next week is prohibitive) and I am thankful that the NRMA have provided me with a rental vehicle while my Ute is in repairs (due to the entanglement I had with the wombat last weekend).
In short, keep us in your prayers as we travel, please, and a big thank you to my friend, Robert El Masri, who will see that our boxing sessions at The Fight Lab still go ahead next Tuesday and Thursday.
Your brother in the Good Fight,