Grow In Faith by Rev. Trenton Dockery
I’m willing to bet every Christian would love to grow in their faith. More of Jesus’ love, patience, joy, power, transforming nature in our lives?! I’ll sign up for that myself. However, I am not sure we understand what comes with asking to grow in faith. To have more faith involves taking a step out of what is comfortable or natural for us. If faith is the goal, dependence that God has you is the road to get there.
The disciples are test subjects for this reality. Take the exchange at the beginning of Luke 17. He warns the disciples to watch themselves to make sure they do not cause or entice others to sin. Sounds alright, except for the fact there would be a severe punishment for those who do. “It would be better for that person to be tossed into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck.” Imagine the attention they would give to their words and actions after hearing that! Then, Jesus discussed forgiveness. We are all called to forgive people. Makes sense. But before we forgive them, Jesus told the disciples to rebuke or charge them with the wrong they committed first, so that they would repent or turn away from the act. If 1st century was anything like today, that would be a foreign concept. Where’s the retribution!? Those are immensely uncomfortable steps in discipleship.
No wonder they asked Jesus to increase their faith in Luke 17:5, or in other words, “give me more belief in you, so that I can do what you have asked me to do, even when I am not sure what will happen when I do it.” They asked because following Jesus is oftentimes trusting a result you cannot see. Jesus responded with a sobering reality to discipleship.
“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10).
No matter where you are, ask yourselves if you have done all that God has wanted you to do in your situation. To grow in faith, we must come to terms with the fact that we will be stretched. We will be in situations or experiences that are not ideal. If faith is belief plus corresponding action, what are seemingly storms could be opportunities for us to look, act, and live like Jesus did. Great faith will come when we hold on to what God says through tribulations and unfortunate circumstances. As a follower, I can say that while I didn’t (and don’t) welcome or enjoy the storms of life, I’m grateful for how God has made me through them. Trust God despite what you see. Knowing the Lord is worth the journey!