Today’s topic attempts to demonstrate what the believers’ response to God’s commands ought to be. In Luke 17:1-4, Jesus teaches about forgiveness and the place for rebuke in God’s Kingdom. In 7:4, our Lord emphasizes, that if a brother sins against you seven times a day, and seven times comes back to you and asks for forgiveness, you are to forgive. It is at this point that the Apostles respond with, “Increase our faith!” (17:6). The disciples cry out, because they consider Jesus’ standard as next to impossible to achieve. Their request was genuine; for they wanted the faith necessary for such radical forgiveness. But Jesus didn’t directly answer their question because the amount of faith is not as important as its genuineness. In the general scheme of things, God desires a response of faith and obedience. But what is faith? It is total dependence on God and a willingness to do His will. Faith is not something we use to put on a show for others. It is complete and humble obedience to God’s will, readiness to do whatever he calls us to do. The amount of faith isn’t as important as the right kind of faith – faith in our all – powerful God.
In his response, Jesus also gives the example of a mustard seed, which is small in size; but it is alive and growing. Like a tiny seed, a small amount of genuine faith in God will take root and grow. Almost invisible at first, it will begin to spread, first under the ground and then visibly. Although each change will be gradual and imperceptible, soon this faith will have produced major results that will uproot and destroy competing loyalties. We don’t need more faith; a tiny seed of faith is enough, if it is alive and growing. In essence, Jesus explained that even the smallest application of faith in God can change the world.
In 1 John 5:1-3, Apostle John says that we become children of God through an act of faith in His Son, but being children of God means loving other children of God. We can’t exactly be called a Christian without loving other Christians (Matt. 22:37-40).
It is important to note that many of God’s commands, in both the OT & NT, revolve around how this love is to play out in community with other believers (e.g avoiding lies, sexual purity, not stealing, avoiding discrimination – based on: race, tribe, class, etc). By keeping God’s commandments, we show our love to others and to God. It is easy to say we love God, when that love doesn’t cost us anything more than weekly attendance at religious services. But the real test of our love for God is how we treat the people right in front of us – our family members and fellow believers. We cannot truly love God while neglecting to love those who are created in his image (1Jn 4:20,21). Once we have obeyed God we have only done our duty and we should regard it as a privilege. Stay blessed as you opt for obedience.
The Very Rev. Canon Michael Mukhwana