Luke 17:5-10 : The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you. ‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here at once and take your place at the table”? Would you not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink”? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, 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!”
Another passage where I am sitting reading the words, searching my heart and struggling for meaning. One of the “tough passages”. Contradictory. Different strokes for different folks. Commentaries on this not immediately helpful. Another sliding around the detail.
(Remember what you wrote earlier: But how do I make this “fit”?) Ah yes – thank you lord.
“Lord – HELP!”
The lord squeezes my shoulders. Thanks lord. And slowly and gently he guides me. Not you, or you, or even you – but me in this moment and this day. He coaxes me to combine the two elements of this passage.
Faith is faith. Love is love. For ever is for ever. Asking for “more” is not the point. If faith, love, eternity is real – it cannot be measured. It cannot be increased. It is enough. It is.
And in the same way: the Lord is God and we are not. Asking for more faith, more love, more eternity is treating faith and the lord like some fast food outlet: ” Two portions of faith to go please” … “Will those be large portions sir?” … “Oh go on then – super-size me”. Maybe – somewhere – believing we are equals? Maybe thinking we can create and give and take and be god.
Or is the lord simply saying slavery is okay?
Whereas I had been struggling with the whole piece, it was the issue of slavery in the second half of the passage (in a published commentary) that seemed to be “wrong”. Is the lord condoning slavery? Surely not! Are we not to condemn slavery? Come on lord – make it fit!! And with no clear answer from this commentator. Another sliding around the detail. More tough stuff needing to fit our version of God, Love, Faith (and is that for others or for ourselves?). More floundering in confusion. A desperate need for clarity (and our control?). Needing more “evidence” to believe. Making every detail fit so we can continue justifying our belief. Making it evidence. Just like me but from another direction. Both of us needing “more”?
Yet isn’t the lord simply using language of the time, language that painted the picture he was giving us. Language for helping his audience understand better. Like the mustard seed, like the mulberry tree, like the sheep, the ploughing? Ordinary simple language. And if so, why do we add our “please can we have more” modern day moral confusion to his words? Jumping in with our big boots as the lord jumps out of our way.
Because in doing so we miss the point:
Faith is. God is. We are. And that is enough for miracles. For all consuming love. For God to smile upon us. Which makes asking for more our own confusion. Not of the lord. Not of god. But of ourselves.
And sitting here I hear a quiet clap behind me. And another. And another and another and more. And angels seem to join in. All around. Wow!
Applause for a lesson learned and remembered. And acted upon! Another first for me.