FAITH! All of our readings today speak of faith. But what exactly is “faith”? The dictionary definition is the belief in something that can’t be proven. We can’t prove that Jesus rose from the dead, so if we believe it that means we have faith. But, there are other kinds of faith. Even atheists have faith in something, even if it’s misplaced faith that there is no God.
I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow in the eastern sky. I can’t prove it. But my experience of almost 65 years is that it rises every day so it must surely rise tomorrow. But there are a lot of crazy people in this world who have the capability of blowing up the planet if they decide to, so there’s at least a small possibility that there won’t be a tomorrow, let alone a sun rise, at least here on earth.
It could also be cloudy and overcast tomorrow so we can’t see the sun. But even under the heaviest clouds, some light gets through so we know the sun’s up there somewhere.
Closer to home, I have faith that when I leave here today and head down Highway 55 toward home that someone won’t be coming the wrong way and hit me head on. That faith is a little weaker, because I know it does happen. I’m having faith in my fellow motorists which isn’t quite as strong as my faith in God or the cycles of the universe.
Even animals have some faith. If you feed your dog everyday at 8 in the morning, you know he’s going to be waiting for you at 7:59 tomorrow. As far as your pet is concerned, you’re god in his world and he has faith in you.
So, what’s Jesus telling us today. If we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move trees with just our voices. A mustard seed is pretty small. If I were to hold one up even you people in the front row probably couldn’t see it. But this teeny-small seed can produce a fairly large tree; one tall enough for you to sit under it and enjoy the shade.
I’d like to think my faith is bigger than that little seed, but frankly I don’t believe that I can tell a tree to move and that it will obey. Of course we live in modern times. I guess if I had a friend with a bulldozer and I told him to move a tree, technically I’d be moving the tree with my voice, but I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant. After all, He did like to speak in parables and use examples.
I believe what he’s telling us is that He can move trees with just a command. And, if we have enough faith in Him, He will hear our prayers and move the big things in our lives. Maybe not trees, but there are a lot of other obstacles that seem just as stubborn that He can move for us if we ask. But, if we don’t believe that He answers our prayers, there’s a pretty good chance that He won’t.
Look at our own church as an example. In 1870 I think most people around here gave the Bohemian founders of Saint John’s zero chance of building a magnificent house of worship. Frankly the locals weren’t crazy about the new immigrants. Some of them probably secretly hoped that the Czechs would fail. The odds were against them. What did they know about building a church? They didn’t have a lot of money. But they did build it. And their neighbors were amazed! The day it was dedicated was a HUGE celebration. They had done something that seemed to be impossible. They had moved the sycamore tree.
Then just 26 years later a tornado destroyed their beautiful church. They could have given up, but they didn’t. They rebuilt it bigger and better than ever. And I’m as sure as I’m standing here that their faith, and their prayers, were just as important, if not more important than the skill of the builders who did the actual labor.
That’s what’s lacking today. It’s no secret that our country is in a mess. Unemployment is high. Terrorists are running wild. Crime is a huge problem. Politicians on both sides of the aisle find it impossible to sit down and come up with workable solutions to these problems. What went wrong? I believe it’s a lack of faith. If every Christian in America, whether they’re Catholics, or main-stream protestants, or fundamentalists, would forget our differences and get down on our knees to pray for our country, there would be a miracle. And let’s not leave out the Jews and the Muslims and everybody else who believes in the Almighty. Right now our churches, regardless of faith tradition, should be standing-room-only.
But so many people have lost their faith in God that they don’t have faith in anything else either. Who really believes that our present government, and I’m talking about both parties, can solve our problems? If we don’t have faith in God, how can we have faith in men?
Our politicians are so busy trying to blame the other guys, that nothing gets done. We’re about to elect a new President. Frankly, neither candidate is very good. It’s going to come down to which one the fewest people don’t like and the majority of people don’t trust either one of them. The same is true right down the line all the way to the local races. Neither side wants to admit that they’re part of the problem. It’s all about blaming somebody else.
We all have to take a look in the mirror on this one. How often have we said, “it’s not my fault.” ….when it really is?
We all know about Adam and Eve. They sinned. You ask somebody what they did and they’ll say they sinned. How did they sin? They ate the apple. Everybody knows that. God told them not to eat the apple but they ate it anyway. But that wasn’t the real sin.
What did Adam say to God when He caught him red-handed with the apple core in his hand? He said, “It’s not my fault. That woman you gave me made me do it.” Then God confronted Eve, standing there with apple juice running down her chin. What did she say? “It’s not my fault. That serpent that you made, tricked me.”
Eating the apple, disobeying God, may have been sinful. But what do we know about God? He forgives sins. If Adam had said, “Lord, I’m sorry I disobeyed you. I shouldn’t have eaten that fruit.”, he might still living in the garden. If Eve had admitted her sin and that she had talked Adam into eating the apple with her, and then asked for forgiveness, she might still be in the garden with him.
No the worst sin was refusing to take responsibility for their own actions. That’s what got them thrown out of paradise. And yet, so many people today think they’re going to get INTO paradise after committing the same sin, not just once, but over and over again.
God will forgive our sins if we ask Him to, and if we have faith, even faith as small as a mustard seed, He will.