Yes, Jesus did say that a mustard seed of faith was all you need. A little dab will do ya! But don’t forget that he went on to explain that a tiny mustard seed grows into a vast, sprawling tree with welcoming branches where lots of little critters can find a home. Faith starts small but it leads to big, wonderful things!
We Evangelicals have this tendency to take this magnificent asset called faith and boil it down to something so basic; so gray, and so formulaic that nobody wants it! None of us would argue with the fact God is vast, powerful and loving; and the Gospel has the power to transform every part of life. But it strikes me that we always want to shrink it down to some kind of dry mathematical equation. Genesis 1 is mysterious and glorious and thought provoking, but all we can see is an argument: are the days literal or metaphorical? Let’s fight about that!
We behave as though spiritual living is nothing more than prayer, Bible Study, worship and witnessing. No wonder our unbelieving friends and neighbors aren’t interested. If you’ve never prayed, studied the Bible or shared your faith, that stuff sounds alien and unappealing! Who wants that? In fact, spiritual living is also about eating, celebrating, falling in love, walking on the seashore, boldly facing a career challenge, and even risking your life in a distant land. We make our friends feel guilty if they enjoy something pleasant and haven’t prayed or mentioned Jesus in the last hour. Some times we even make ourselves feel guilty!
As a pastor, I hope my preaching and my approach to ministry have never encouraged people to oversimplify the call of Christ or underestimate his mighty power. But just in case, I have resolved to be more intentional in magnifying the greatness of God spreading his fame. I want my friends and neighbors to know that God is big enough to love people who aren’t just like me. In fact, he’s big enough to love someone like me, who is not nearly like him. God loves me in my sins. He loves me when I’m hiking in the mountains, even if I didn’t stop at the last scenic overlook to praise Him. He loves me when I’m eating, even when I’m overeating.
God is big enough to do more than we can ask or imagine. He never reduces the Gospel down to a simple formula- not ever. But he does encourage us all to explore and find out how wide and long and high and deep is the love of God. The road to life is narrow, but it leads to a big, awesome destination and a God whose power is so vast that he can transform a bloody cross into a symbol of new life. Let’s break out of the box! Big God. Big Gospel. Live Big.
And lift up the Cross!