Summary: It's not great faith we need, but faith in a great God.
"Faith in a Great God"
Here in the first 10 verses of Luke Chapter 17 Jesus gives His disciples and us four teachings:
1. One is about tempting others, or causing others to sin.
2. One is on forgiving others.
3. One is on the need for us to act on our faith.
4. And the fourth lesson is about how doing all this is really no big deal--just keep doing it!!!
Obviously, though, Jesus' disciples are overwhelmed.
They don't feel up to the tasks.
It's incredibly difficult to be a good role model for others.
It's even harder to forgive others over and over again from some bottomless well of forgiveness!!!...
...and 7 times a day at that !!!
Is it any wonder that the "apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!'"?
How many times have you said that yourself?
I know I have.
It's kind of like, "Jesus, I think I hear what you are saying, but I am just a human being.
I mess up, and may even cause others to 'trip and fall into sin...'
When someone sins against me; I sometimes get mad--really, really mad.
It's hard to forgive!!!
If they come to me and say, 'I'm sorry, I am changing my ways,' I might be able to forgive them the first or second time...
...but if they keep doing it over and over again?
I'm gonna need a faith as big as the Empire State Building in order to be able to follow Your commands!!!"
But this doesn't deter Jesus.
Instead, Jesus answers the disciples and Jesus answers us with kindness, compassion and maybe even a bit of a smile.
"Why you don't need more faith," Jesus says.
And then He takes His thumb and forefinger and pinches them together...
..."Even this much faith is enough!"
In love, Jesus tells us that we already have enough faith to do whatever we need do.
"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."
What in the world does Jesus mean by this?
To understand this verse, scholars down through the ages have wound themselves and their listeners through all the nuances of Greek clauses.
But let's just cut to the chase!!!
Obviously, what Jesus says here is not to be taken literally.
Faith is not some kind of magic trick by which we are enabled to do some amazing landscaping!!!
It's not about saying: "Tulip bulbs, plant yourselves!!!"
"Mulberry tree, dance over to the lake and jump in!!!"
What it is about is God.
We have a great God; and with God anything is possible.
It's not great faith that we need; it is faith in a great God!!!
Cause faith is like a window through which we can see something.
What matters is not whether the window is six inches or six feet high.
What matters is the God that our faith is looking out on!!!
If it's the Creator God, the God Who came to this earth and took on human form, that is, Jesus...
...if it's the God of the Holy Spirit, then the tiniest little peep-hole of a window will give us access to power like we have never dreamed of!!!
Of course, it's the power to love, to forgive, to be transformed!!!
As you know, I had a radical born again experience when I was 18 years old.
During my college years I got off track.
As I have told you, following college I pursued a career as a t-v news reporter, but I was not happy.
I was not satisfied.
I knew I was not doing what I had been created to do with my life.
I had felt called to be a minister from as far back as I could remember, but I had run from it.
After I left the t-v business, I moved back to Syracuse, New York, continued to run from God until I became convinced I had finally lost my faith, and opened up a rock and roll tee shirt shop in a mall.
I called it "Rock Bottom Imports."
And "Rock Bottom Imports" just happened to be situated right next to the biggest high school in the city.
To say the least, "Rock Bottom Imports" was an instant success!!!
After school kids piled into my store.
Before school, kids hung out in my store.
During school, kids skipped classes and came to my store.
On the weekends, parents who used the mall as a "baby sitter," dropped their kids off and they came to my store.
Many would spend entire days in my store.
And I would talk to these kids.
I would listen to these kids.
And these were some very troubled kids.