Summary: Faith and what it is all about
How Mountains, Trees, and even Hearts Are Moved 20th Sunday after Pentecost October 17, 2004
Luke 17:1-10 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would 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.’”
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ;
A small congregation in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains built a new sanctuary on a piece of land willed to them by a church member. Ten days before the new church was to open, the local building inspector informed the pastor that the parking lot was inadequate for the size of the building. Until the church doubled the size of the parking lot, they would not be able to use the new sanctuary. Unfortunately, the church with its undersized lot had used every inch of their land except for the mountain against which it had been built.
In order to build more parking spaces, they would have to move the mountain out of the back yard. Undaunted, the pastor announced the next Sunday morning that he would meet that evening with all members who had "mountain moving faith." They would hold a prayer session asking God to remove the mountain from the back yard and to somehow provide enough money to have it paved and painted before the scheduled opening dedication service.
At the appointed time, 24 of the congregation’s 300 members assembled for prayer. They prayed for nearly three hours. At ten o’clock the pastor said the final "Amen". "We’ll open next Sunday as scheduled," he assured everyone. "God has never let us down before, and I believe he will be faithful this time too." The next morning as he was working in his study there came a loud knock at his door. When he called "come in", a rough looking construction foreman appeared, removing his hard hat as he entered. "Excuse me, Reverend. I’m from Acme Construction Company over in the next county. We’re building a huge shopping mall. We need some fill dirt. Would you be willing to sell us a chunk of that mountain behind the church? We’ll pay you for the dirt we remove and pave all the exposed area free of charge if we can have it right away. We can’t do anything else until we get the dirt in and allow it to settle properly."
The little church was dedicated the next Sunday as originally planned and there were far more members with "mountain moving faith" on opening Sunday than there had been the previous week! (Author Unknown).
Wow. At first listen, that story sounds like an amazing fulfillment of a saying Jesus liked to use during his ministry. Both Matthew and Mark record him as saying that faith the size of a mustard seed could move mountains. Luke, in the Gospel for today, records Jesus as saying, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it will obey you.” Either way he chose to say it, the message was the same: With just a little faith great things can be done.
It’s no wonder then, that the disciples said to him, "Increase our faith." Is it any wonder that the pastor of that small mountain church called for those with "mountain moving faith" to come pray. But the point of Jesus’ illustration does not support such conclusions. His point is that the amount of faith you have doesn’t matter. Lots and lots of faith isn’t necessary, but rather any faith at all, even a tiny bit like a mustard seed is enough. But enough for what? How about enough to move trees or mountains or even human hearts.