Tuesday, June 16, 2015
The faith of a mustard seed. . .
The farmer scatters the seed, lays his tired body in the bed, and rises to see that it has sprouted and grown. But that is not enough for us. We began to think that God created us to make better what He made, not to preserve it. Since Eden, we have used our technology to improve God’s design and control everything. Science’s great lie is that if we can predict it, we can control it, and if we can control it, we must master it. So we improve the seed to produce heartier plants and more yield, we irrigate so we do not need rain, and we use pesticide to prevent damage to the crops.
We complain now at all the science in our food but it is our own fault. We wanted a bionic world under our design and calling. We wanted cheap food where everything is in season. We wanted replacement parts to our broken bodies. We think that God has given us this world to make it better, raw material for us to experiment upon and improve. Think how those Native Americans presented their small and half empty ears of corn to the Pilgrims and then think of the mighty hybrid ears of corn we genetically engineered to improve upon God's design. But that is not our calling; God did not create us to fix what He made but to preserve it and His Word in lives of faith and trust. If only we had faith the size of a mustard seed. . .
We think that God made us because He needed us, and that He still needs us. God does not need us but wants us. On the other hand, because of sin, we do not want God but need Him. Since the Fall we wonder where would God be without us?! God is not self-sufficient in our eyes but we are. We do not need Him but He needs us – our money, smarts, time, labor, etc... In truth the opposite is the case. God does not need us but we need Him. We do not understand God or His Kingdom or His nature but God does get us, our wants and our needs. If only we had faith the size of the mustard seed.
From the Garden of Eden we have sought to control God instead of trust in Him or delight in His mercy, love and grace. We have sought our own purposes and desires and pulled God along to bless them so we can do what we want without guilt. And look how it has turned out? Without the Spirit we are left only to our broken creation, sin-filled lives, prideful sense of control, and hopeless end. If only we had faith the size of a mustard seed.
God does not need you or me but He wants us. We do not want Him but we need Him. He does not need us and yet in His grace He created us to exercise dominion over all He had made. He does not need us and yet in His grace He has chosen to work in us, among us, and through us. We are partners in the Gospel not because of our will and desire but because of His mercy and grace. The Word is the means of grace and the Spirit its power to call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify a people who are God's alone by faith. If only we had faith the size of a mustard seed.
God will do all things to save us and asks of us only repentance and faith. Yet He has also promised to remember and reward every small and forgettable good work we do. Such is the nature of His great mercy and love! God does not seek our advice or counsel but counsels us with His Word and Spirit and promises never to forget us and never to renege on His promises to us in Jesus Christ His Son.
The grace of forgiveness is not freedom to do as we please but to live lives of faith, trusting in God’s abundant grace and serving Him without fear. Yet we have turned this grace of forgiveness into mere license to do what we desire without fear or shame. God’s business is to forgive and ours to give Him some thing to forgive. If only we had faith the size of a mustard seed.
No where is this more true than when it comes to the church. We think it is our job to make it bigger and better, to remodel God’s house so that it fits the times and adjust His Word to meet the moment. But all we have done is sacrifice His eternal truth for the present tense lies that leave us without comfort or hope. We took His world and taught it sin, poverty, war, violence, and hate. Then we blame God when things went sour and acted as if we had no part in it. If only we had faith the size of a mustard seed.
God will not put heaven on earth but He grows His kingdom as wheat among weeds until He declares the harvest. He does not build His kingdom by fiat but by using our feeble works of love and witness to make known His grace and favor. It is slow and deliberate. It is inefficient and plodding. No pastor is content to wait upon God anymore than you are to wait upon Him for your own life. We are all impatient and frustrated yet our way is not the way of judgement but the way of trust. We would exchange all our waiting and trusting for a bandaid to get us through another day or a quick fix to last a moment. Instead, God is delivering to us an eternity. If only we had faith the size of a mustard seed.
And this is how that kingdom comes. Grace to forgive the sinner, love to find the lost, hope to raise the dead, and peace to comfort the despairing. . . through the means of grace wherein the Holy Spirit is at work in us and through us. It is not enough for us but it is all we need. If only we had faith like a mustard seed, we would see it. The way of the kingdom is faith, trust in God’s mercy for all things, patience in adversity and pain, grace to forgive and restore the unworthy and undeserving, hope to sustain the disappointed and broken, and peace that passes understanding. We think we need the faith of a giant oak tree but in reality all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed and it would be enough for us. . . to endure, to do what God has given us to do, to find joy and peace in each day, and to be found blameless when He comes again in His glory. Amen.