Faith Matters: How do we know if we have enough faith?

  • The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield. Staff file photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Rev. Heather Blais outside the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield. Staff file photo/Paul Franz

Rector, Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew
Published: 10/14/2022 6:14:35 PM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com)

Some of us struggle with this question, as did many of the disciples who followed Jesus. They were so anxious about it that at one point in Luke’s Gospel, they practically beg Jesus to, “Increase our faith!” (17:1-6)

Immediately before the disciples made this plea, Jesus had been speaking to them about the challenges of discipleship. He warned them against using their power and position to mislead the vulnerable; about the inevitable reality that the disciples would violate boundaries and norms that would cause harm and fracture relationships; the need to work through those conflicts and to forgive one another. Regardless of how many times someone might come up short, if they sincerely repented, the disciples were to forgive one another. Over and over again. Maybe we can understand why they begged Jesus to, “Increase our faith!”

So, how do we know if we have enough faith?

In the story from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells them, “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.”

In other words, Jesus is indicating that the disciples may be asking the wrong question. It is not about having enough faith. It is about having faith, period. The tiniest grain of trust is more than enough. Because faith is not quantifiable.

Faith is simply showing up. Faith is our intention to trust in God. Note I said intention — faith is not all the times we successfully put our trust in God. Our success rate is irrelevant to God. Faith is when we seek to trust, when we are mindful of our intentions. All God really wants from us is to show up; embodying our willingness to be part of something far greater than ourselves — a movement.

Jesus routinely reiterated the “why” behind this Jesus Movement: we are called to proclaim in thought, word and deed the transformative power of God’s love, knowing we can change this world for the better when humanity works in concert with God and one another.

Faith is showing up with an intention to be a part of this movement. To hold our hands open, with a willingness to lend our ideas, our time and our resources towards this movement, and see where the journey takes us.

Since faith is not quantifiable, in this story, Jesus tries to reframe the apostles’ anxiety about having enough, shifting them towards a more helpful question: How do we embody our faith?

I think we embody our faith by showing up, with hands open, and a willingness to share ourselves with this movement. To show up each day, with some intention to bring our best selves. To not be concerned with any kind of reward, as that is irrelevant to faith. Faith is not something we pay God to receive some magical, heavenly good. Faith is our love, our hope, our curiosity, our aches and longings to connect to the highest power in this universe and one another, as well as a willingness to do our small part.

When it comes to faith, the real question is, What are we going to do with it? Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, I wonder: Have you ever grappled with whether you have “enough” faith? What would it be like to instead explore, how am I embodying my faith today?

About the church

The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew is an emerging church community in Greenfield. We believe that God is calling us to cultivate a community of love, joy, hope and healing. Jesus is our model for a life of faith, compassion, hospitality and service. We strive to be affirming and accessible, welcoming and inclusive; we seek to promote reconciliation, exercise responsible stewardship, and embrace ancient traditions for modern lives. All are invited and welcomed. We worship in person on Sundays at 10 a.m., and the services are also live-streamed on our Facebook page. We are at 8 Church St., Greenfield. 413-773-3925

www.saintsjamesandandrew.org;

Facebook: www.facebook.com/saintsjamesandandrew.


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