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Just Get on With It: A Christian Perspective

I remember listening to one of our teens, who was feeling that he wasn’t a good enough Christian.  He had friends at school, whom he described as ‘real’ Christians -- they talked about their faith a lot, felt comfortable praying in front of each other, seemed to him to be more ‘holy’ than he was.

Now this was someone who seemed to me and others to be a wonderful young Christian:  thoughtful, caring, committed to following Jesus’ teachings, and a role model to those younger than he.  But, with the disciples he cried, “Increase my faith!” Luke 17: 5-10

Don’t we all want that:  to have a faith that doesn’t put off until tomorrow the good we should do today. A faith that is  certain: without doubt, valiant in the face of evil, burdens, a huge faith that could solve big problems.  a faith big enough to move a tree.  Wouldn't it be great to have a spectacular spirituality.

The disciples wanted such a faith too.  But just before this conversation, Jesus told them they would have to forgive those who wronged them, and they realized they just didn’t have what it took, didn’t have what it took to follow Jesus where he would take them.

“Increase our faith!”

The disciple’s question was one arising from a lack of confidence in themselves, a knowledge that they would rather do just about anything than forgive the sinner.  “Give us faith that we might live as you say.”  may have been behind the demand, “Increase our faith.”


When we lack confidence in our faith, we tend to procrastinate in doing good.

The longer we put things off, the worse we feel.  We feel bad while we are putting it off till tomorrow, then when tomorrow comes, we feel even worse.  So it’s like punishing ourselves over and over every day.

And Jesus responds: with two rebukes.

  1. Jesus scolds them for lacking faith even as big as a mustard seed.
  2. Jesus suggests they should not expect reward or praise for their service; they should get on with doing the ordinary tasks of faith.

In the first response, Jesus tells them it’s not about how much faith they have.  ‘If you had as much faith as a mustard seed, it would be enough to move a tree to the sea!’  Faith can’t be quantifiable; it’s a gift of God and it’s sufficient.

Jesus’ second response is disturbing to us -- we don’t want to identify at all with slavery.  But it’s here, so deal with it we will. We have a person who is just wealthy enough to have someone who works for him in the fields and in the house.  Jesus asks his listeners to imagine themselves first as the master, then as the slave.  The master would expect the servant to do his duty, to be obedient.  To get on with the task at hand. And the servant would expect to do his or her duty.

Jesus isn’t condoning the status quo, but rather holding up a relationship of obedience and authority:  the relationship of us to God.

God asks for us to be obedient -- no more -- just do your job and I will take it from there.

Jesus may be saying, ‘keep up.’ Don’t let your faith go past is ‘best by date’ -- just keep on working it.

This is what disciples do -- you do what you can. Jesus is looking for an ordinary faithfulness -- do the job -- you don’t need to penetrate the mysteries to do what God requires.

When Jesus’ followers ask for faith, what do we want?  Some may desire certainty, some a mystical experience, some a drug that helps to get through life’s challenges, some an antidote to struggle. Maybe in this light, mustard seed faith and modest discipleship may be just what we need.

What Jesus is talking about does not need confidence or spectacular accomplishments.  Sometimes faith requires ordinary and daily practices.  By the grace of God, mustard seed faith and ordinary discipleship more often suffice.