Faith. For such a divisive and powerful word, It’s actually really small.
Some religious people view faith as life’s never-ending exam. If you study harder, work harder and push yourself – you can become a person with more faith – and only then can God bless you and favour you. In other words, great faith, and a great life is achievable for those who make good choices to believe, who take great faith filled jumps – for those who have got their ‘spiritual lives’ together.
Jesus, I think, paints a different picture.
‘Christ’s faith’ is for the forgotten ones, those left out and rejected, the try-hards and the ‘better-luck-next-timers’. For the down-and-outs, the misfits, the mocked and the nobodies. For the “you-came-so-closers”, the hurting and the loners. The screw-ups, the ridiculed and the depressed. All of these people, if we are humble enough, we can see in ourselves in many areas of our lives, myself especially.
In fact – Jesus even said that he didn’t come for those who have it all together:
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”Mark 2:17 (NIV,2011)
Jesus wasn’t suggesting that the Pharisees in this case, were righteous, but that they believed themselves to be. Jesus came for those who don’t have it all together and acknowledge their need for him.
The standard of faith
Jesus didn’t raise the standard of faith. He lowered it. Death on the cross made it low enough that even the most hopeless, skeptical, the most faith-struggling among us, could believe.
He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. Luke 17:6 (NIV,2011)
To me, the miracle of faith is not that the sick are healed, the blind see and the lame walk; although when it happens, it’s wonderful to see – praise God! But for me, the real miracle of faith is that through Christ, to have even the tiniest seed of faith, is enough for God.
Faith is a gift
Faith starts small and grows. And even the tiniest seed of faith can grow into a tree, large and strong. But not all of us are given the same measure of faith (Rom 12:3) – some people will naturally be able to have faith more easily than others. But when our view of faith precludes and ostracises the very people, who Christ stooped so low as to not leave out , then we completely miss the gospel. We feel superior to those who have less faith than us, and encourage them to do X, or choose Y or Z (like I did) to have more. Instead of the wonderful news that we are justified by faith – we view it as being justified by our choices. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by grace (gift), through faith. Not through grace because of faith. Jesus isn’t moving the goal posts from “meeting the Old Testament requirements” to ” meeting your faith requirements” – he kicked the goal we could never kick.
If our view of faith is that it is first and foremost a gift, then we are no longer depressed by those who have more faith than us (God gave them a bigger gift), and we no longer point to ourselves and our own good works when we are confronted by those who don’t believe as freely as we do – but instead we can point to Jesus… the author of our faith.