a mustard tree

The prosperity gospel has always made me a little sick to my stomach.

Not that I don’t like the idea that if I ask God for a Cadillac, or big screen TV or new wardrobe and keep asking and have enough faith. That God will deliver.
Trust me, I like stuff. A lot. It is kind of a problem for me. And for most Americans.
But. I don’t think God particularly wants to give me a big check or TV or new car just because I believed enough that he would.

Because what happens when he doesn’t come through.
What if the check doesn’t come.
Or the test results are negative.
Or when the phone rings in the middle of the night.
Where does that leave my faith or my God.
Is it big enough to still believe after that?

And because I think there are plenty of people out there with way more faith than me.
Living with way less. Praying really important prayers. That aren’t always answered the way we wish. And that it has absolutely NOTHING to do with faith. But mostly about a really big God whose timing and goodness I don’t always get to see all at once.

One time. Not so many months ago I was sitting on one of my favorite couches and talking with friend who was in crisis mode. She wondered aloud that maybe if she just believed enough. That God would come through for her. That she just needed more faith. And to trust. And to maybe start going to church again. That those magic three ingredients would guarantee what we were all praying for.
And what do you say to that.
“Yes. Exactly. Just have more faith and everything will be ok.”
I couldn’t say that because I didn’t know. And because sometimes it isn’t ok.
And I was going through my own season of questions and sad and rifts. And I was in no capacity to be a cheerleader or spew out nonsense about having more faith. There wasn't any extra in my pocket to hand out. But I did know that it wasn’t a matter of faith. Or trust. Or sin. Or reading her bible or going to church or doing good things. All I could do was pray. And sit on the couch. And hope.

One time, mid-lecture on forgiveness, Jesus’s apostles asked him for more faith.
“Increase our faith” they asked boldly. (Luke 17:5 NIV). And who better to ask than Jesus. And faith is a good thing, surely he would give them more if they asked for it. It is kind of like my kid asking for another serving of vegetables. Of course I'd give them more. But, I’m not so sure why they even needed more faith in the first place. They were hanging out every day with the son of God. They had seen him heal the sick, cast out demons, turn water into wine, feed thousands with a few loaves and all kinds of other mind boggling stuff. If faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). They had seen. They were there. I’m not sure why they really felt the need to ask Jesus for more of it.

Unless of course they wanted to be able to do more of the things Jesus did.
Like forgive.
And walk on water.
Or even move mountains.

And Jesus didn’t reach in his pocket and start handing out more faith when his best friends asked for it. Or lay hands on them. Or pray for them. He didn't tell them to have more quiet times or study the scripture or start a new bible study or even go volunteer in the church nursery. He didn’t mention the prayer of Jabez. I’m pretty sure his answer shocked them.

He told them they didn’t really need much.
That they only needed a mustard seed worth.
That a tiny bit was enough. For almost anything.

And so this idea that we need more faith is false.
We only need a smidge.
To uproot trees or move mountains.
To pray for our friends. And to show up. 
To thank God when he answers those prayers with a beautiful sweet and perfect baby girl. When seasons pass. When questions are answered and when they aren't.
Or to keep believing anyways when we don’t get the answer we want.

And most importantly to grow.
Because seeds are supposed to become trees.

photocredits: seed: http://happylotus.com/2009/10/08/mustard-money-and-fear-what-is-going-on/
                        tree: http://canfaithandmoneymix.com/applications/WebBlogManager/inc_webblogmanager.asp


Beth (and Eric) said...

And it's amazing that when you think your faith is all gone, and you get a smidge back somehow, that "all" of it was still in there all along...

Margie said...

Love this. Perfect post. And what an amazing picture of the tree.

the_Tmac said...

you need a book deal. and giant crowds of readers. it would make the world a better place.

Kristi Smith said...

The point of faith is not to bring us matierial things or to make our lives perfect. Faith gives us hope, and that is what allows us to face the diverse chalenges we all face each day and to be able to do it with grace and humility. Job is a pefect example of one who had challenges but looked forward with faith to a better day when the Saviors promises for him and each of us would become a reallity. Faith can grow as we exercise it, and that is done by obeying His commandments. As our faith grows so does our joy.

john said...

don't be disappoint if your prayer does not come true...

cuz it take patient and faith, and God will answer your prayer according to his will.

and you will recieve a blessing that doesn't come to your mind...but a surprise from God.

Ivan.Y said...

Don't forget that faith without works is dead and vice versa following the law and not believing is the same. The law keeping people of Judea keep the commandments but do not believe in the Messiah, and people claiming to be followers of Christ but have no work to prove it(i.e breaking commandments and teaching that the law is done away with) are in the same boat. The God of the old testament is Christ and anyone who teaches that the law is done away with is a liar and isn't a follower. Faith is vital as the bible says a prayer from a righteous man is heard and that righteous literally means right wise, and Christ himself said people who hearken to his words he will liken unto a wise man who built his house on a rock, and the rock of Ages is Christ. Whether the people who read this comment are actual Christians who listen to all of the bible or simply deceived proclaiming Christians read the bible and serve Christ and our Father in Heaven how they deem themselves to be served. God is not our servant and he does not need us but we are given the choice to take part in His plans, or refuse to follow his laws and destroy ourselves.

And just a heads up I used to go to church till i received the Holy spirit in my life and started honoring the Sabbath day and all the other commandments of God, and the church of God means people of God not some building or corporation. Do not believe what the preachers say because a man can be seen by the fruits he produces and if you read the bible from front to back and have the means to understand you will see that your pastors and preachers and sunday-keeping peoples are not speaking the word of God. Jesus sacrifice allowed truly repentant people to pray to the father and in a sense become even closer with the Son and the Father by means of growing in their spirit, and God doesn't need gold buildings or stain glass windows to do this, God is God of the living and not God of dead idols and vanity.Abraham didnt have a building to honor God as God was with him, neither did Isaac or Jacob(Israel) neither did Christ nor his followers from the older testament to the new one, all of his followers did not need a building to honor and serve God, and God is not a prisoner to these vain buildings.

joshua° said...


Display name said...

Could it be. . .faith=wish. If you read it, it makes perfect sense, though! (Wish without works, continued wish develops into more. . .--assuming when you continue wishing you strive for what you wish for/abstain from the opposite :)

Display name said...

Could it be. . .faith=wish. If you read it, it makes perfect sense, though! (Wish without works, continued wish develops into more. . .--assuming when you continue wishing you strive for what you wish for/abstain from the opposite :)

Ron Hope said...

This post is awesome in it's simple message. We are to pray that our Heavenly Father will meet our needs--and not our "greed."
People make faith out to be so complicated when it really isn't. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and that hearing comes from the (and here's the big secret) The Word of God.
And there it is--the formula for faith. We need to find a verse or chapter in the Bible that applies to what we are going through & stand on it in faith that our Father will hear or prayer.
Another example of faith is to imagine an electrical outlet, a power cord, and whatever object we are trying to get power to.
For instance, a toaster. We want to make toast--we have to plug the toaster in to get it working. God is 'The Power' behind the electrical outlet, we are the power cord that connects the power to the toaster. We plug into the outlet & the power flows through us to the toaster. Boom--toast.
None of these elements can work without the others.
Our faith is built-up when we read & (hopefully begin) to 'hear' what the Bible says to us.
Remember, when Jesus had that confrontation with Satan in the wilderness---He only quoted the 'Word of God' back at the devil & then the battle was over because Satan can't stand against The Word.
And that is what faith means to me---you don't need a lot because to make our 'measure-of-faith' work, we still have to plug into our source--God to get the job done.
Of course, sometimes we don't get that answer we want and might not understand why and need that faith to trust that our Father always knows what is best for us.