Mustard Seed – Mulberry Tree
Disciples request: “Increase our Faith”. Why? To do the impossible? To forgive 7 times in one day. The same person.The same thing? Same injury. Really?
What is faith then? Heb 11:1 says it is the “assurance of things hoped for” - , i.e things that there can be no assurance about. “evidence of things unseen” - i.e. a picture of something invisible. J B Phillips has “putting our full confidence in the things we hope for”. Faith is not something we feel, primarily, it is something we do.
- Faith does not come
in kilograms. One seed will produce a great bush that will
produce a million seeds. You can't have more faith than you can use
right now. Walking across Spain – you can't carry water and food
for tomorrow, its far too heavy. You have to go with just enough for
now. There may be 1001 questions that you can't answer about
Christianity, about the future. There always will be. It's not more
faith that you need. Just say “I don't understand, but I trust
you.” “I don't know how I'll cope. But I'll go.”
- Faith is not limited
by what's possible. Jesus' cartoon is meant to be nonsensical.
Why would anyone ever want to plant a Mulberry Tree in the sea? It
would die. It would be a senseless piece of showing off. (I bet
someone has tried!!!). What Jesus is saying is that God is not
limited. I mean that sounds good, doesn't it? It sounds faithful?
You could – but why would you? Its a perturbing
truth. If God is not limited; if our prayer is not limited; then why
all this mayhem in the world? How do we cope with that “Mulberry
Tree” that seems so huge, so fixed an obstacle? Faith is only limited by what
we know of the will of God. Does God want the Mulberry tree removed?
Do I have a saw? Faith is not an intellectual assent to a
proposition about the existence of a supernatural power. Js2:19 It
is saying “yes” to God's purposes. Don't be distracted by your
own “Mulberry tree”.
- Faith is only seen in
action. There is difference between the person who approaches
the latest ride a Alton Towers with confidence saying “I'm going
on Turbovomit” (or whatever its called) and eggs on those around,
pouring scorn on the lilly livered whilst recalled former deeds of
derring-do; only to opt out at the last minute “because the queue
is too long”. And the person who is dragged along by the new
boyfriend saying “OMG I don't want to do it, I'm going to die.
Arrgh!” but lets herself be strapped in anyway till its too late.
One is full of confidence (well that's one word for it). The other
is full of trepidation. But that's faith. It's the stepping out of
the boat – as we thought about recently. What is God asking of
you? Do you want to wait till you can move a Mulberry? Or just take one seed out of the packet?
- Faith comes from God
– it's not a badge of honour. There are not Christians with a Bronze badge of faith (OK on a good day unless hard questions or difficult
situations arise), Silver Badge (able to cope with minor
disappointments and unanswered prayers, able to think of get out
bible verses for harder cases) or Gold Badges (absolutely
unwavering, unquestioning confidence, never knowingly let down by
God). For Christians, faith is not like Magic Potion or Antibiotics:
more or less powerful depending on circumstances. For us faith is in
Jesus Christ. That is, we believe that the one true and only God is
fully revealed in Jesus. Nothing more – nothing less. “The
fullness of the godhead dwells bodily in my Lord” says Paul. You
sometimes hear people say “I believe in Jesus – but not in God”
or vice versa. It is nonsense in Christianity. For us Jesus embodies
God. Just as the Father does. Just as the Spirit does. At the
incarnation, at the crucifixion, in his dying, in his rising again,
God is assuming, bearing, overcoming sin and death. God: Father, Son
and Holy Spirit. Otherwise you have the obscenity of a supposedly
loving Father sacrificing his own Son to save you and me. It's
trinity not modalism or docetism. 1 Cor 15:17 “And
if Christ is not risen, your faith is
you are still in your sins!”
But He is. He is living in you. Don't be blinded by the Mulberry
Faith means living life as if this were true and that God himself, through the spirit of Jesus, lives in you. Now. Today. Really. He is taking on sin, overcoming sin and giving life back to those who have lost it. And He is doing that in and through you and me.
Use the mustard seed.
“If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.