"Increase Our Faith”
Sermon: "Increase Our Faith”
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from October 2, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
Our gospel lesson this morning starts off with the apostle saying to the Lord, increase our faith. Now out of context, that kind of sounds self-serving, doesn't it? Or some entitlement, for the apostles to be saying, Lord, increase our faith. And yet we have to think back to what has been going on before. Like anything in the scriptures, if you take it out of context. It really comes across wrong.
The apostles, and interesting that Luke calls them here the apostles, normally they are referred to as the disciples. So somehow either this is a later textual addition or Luke is trying to really focus on that it is the closest of Jesus’ followers who are saying, increase our faith.
But what has gone immediately before that was Jesus telling the people that were following him of all the difficulties that would come from following what he was teaching them, and from doing what he was asking them to do. And that comes more into focus if we go through with this, and Jesus says to his apostles here, if you had faith just the size of a mustard seed, you'd be able to say to the mulberry tree, pick yourself up and plant yourself in the sea and it would do it.
Now, you know, even to Jesus' apostles, that would have seemed like an impossibility. And is this a way that Jesus is saying, look, you're talking about increasing your faith and if you even had that little tiny bit, you'd be able to do tremendous things with it?
Why would Jesus tell his apostles that they didn't have enough faith to even qualify as a mustard seed?
And we had quite a discussion on Thursday when, or we have all the Presbyterian pastors in the area get together once a week to discuss the texts. And we had quite a discussion over this text on Thursday because like, well first of all, why would Jesus be telling you his apostles, they don't have enough faith to do this? Second of all, when you put that into context with the rest of this passage about who among you would say to your slave, who has just come in from plowing and tending your flocks, sit down and eat. Sit at the table with me and eat. No, you'd tell 'em, serve, prepare, and serve my meal then you can eat.
And this doesn't sound like the justice that Jesus teaches everywhere else. So, what is going on with this text? And then it goes on and it says, so when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say we are worthless slaves, we have done only what we ought to have done. Now, you can just imagine when you get a bunch of seminary-trained people sitting around talking about this passage, the kind of discussion you could have, and you know I don't think any of us were satisfied with getting any better answers when we walked away from our coffee gathering on Thursday.
But one of the things that did come out of it was that we have to think about what was going on before, how hard Jesus had been telling them it was going to be followers of his. They're asking for increased faith, maybe so that they could actually do what Jesus was asking them to do.
And then with this story of the slave, or depending upon your translation servant, Jesus is basically saying, don't worry about looking for an increase in faith. Just keep doing what you've been doing. Just keep serving the master as you have been serving. So, we have that tension where we are looking to increase our faith.
And I think most of us would say at any given time, when we're facing trials and tribulations in this world, Lord increased our faith. Give me something, I want something tangible that I can hold onto that I can see that says my faith is getting bigger and stronger. And Jesus says, If you only had that much faith, you could do tremendous things.
And then we have to question, if we had enough faith to do things as Jesus was suggesting, would we use them for the right purpose? If you had faith enough that you could lay your hands on someone and pray and heal them of their cancer, would you use that power for good, or would you only do it for the people that you liked?
What would we do if we had that kind of faith where we would be lifting everyone up the same, even if we had faith the size of a mustard seed? And it comes down to how, not just that we serve the master, but how we serve the master. And of course, in this case, the master is God obviously. But how do we serve that master?
We have done only what we ought to have done, is what Jesus tells us. We have done only what we ought to have done. Well, if we do every single day what God says we ought to be doing, then our faith will increase because we are going to experience what that does in not only our personal lives but in the lives of those around us, those that we come in contact with.
And so, we have to be careful in our texts from Timothy. Paul is trying to encourage Timothy to do what he has been taught to do, and then if he does that, then it's all he can be asked to do. If he is just living out what Paul has taught him and is then carrying the grace of God to all those he comes in contact with, then that is his duty.
That is his job, and it is just doing what he ought to do. So, if we take that, then the question for us in today's world is, what ought we to be doing? Now, Debbie mentioned all the catastrophes around the world right now. You know, we're coming into a season where every place you turn somebody's going to be standing there saying, donate to this, to this, donate to this, donate to this, donate to that.
It's all already on the tv. You know, you donate to this charity or this charity, or this charity or this charity to help the poor people in Florida.
You can't do 'em all. But what ought we be doing?
At a session meeting earlier or in September there was a discussion over the, uh, you know, the shoeboxes at Christmas that we've done for years here at Kirkridge. Well, the Shoebox Christmas program has now gotten to where they are charging you upfront for the boxes, and if you order enough of 'em, then they give you a few more for free.
And that's the way they're now collecting the funds for their shipping. and it's like, well hold it, $10 to ship a box of trinkets somewhere, plus the cost of what you're putting in the box. What could we do locally with those same dollars and ought we not be focusing on how we can do the most with the resources that God has given us?
And so, the session decided that instead of doing shoebox Christmas, we're going to do an extra family from FISH.
Ought we not, what do we, what ought we be doing in this world? What mission ought we be working on? What way of reaching out to our community, what we'd be? What ought we be doing in our day-to-day lives to live out what Jesus taught us to be doing? Because the focus is there, and if we are working honestly, and sincerely to do what we ought to be doing, then we won't have to worry about asking for increased faith because we'll be living an increased faith.
And see there's the other piece of this puzzle. The apostles we're asking for a thing. Lord, increase our faith. They were looking for something that they would be able to hold onto and say, look at my faith, here it is. Look how great it is. And Jesus is reminding him that faith isn't a thing, but it's a way of life and we need to work on the way of life. If we want to increase our faith. We need to work on doing what we ought to do, as individuals, as a church, as the larger church, and as all of those who profess faith in God. We need to be working on what it means to live our faith. It's not something that can be labeled or shown or held up as a visible, tangible thing. The only thing that's visible and tangible is the way we live it.
So that is our challenge going in forward in this world. How do we live and serve as we ought to? And the rest of it is up to God.
And so, part of that is this. This is World Communion Sunday where communion is celebrated at Christian churches all around the world, on this day. The envelope that is probably being used to mark a hymn is for the peace-making global witness. 25% of that is to be maintained here for our congregation to use locally. 25% will be used in the presbytery. 50% will be divided between the Synod and the general assembly.
When you go down the hall for fellowship time, there's a piece of paper on each of four tables. Please sit at one of those tables. Pick up, someone that's sitting there that can, that you know, has legible handwriting, can pick up the pen, and as a table, write down what you think Kirkridge ought to be doing to live out our faith. And that may determine what we do with the 25% of that peace-making global witness offering.