The gospels were written for the early Christians. And they were written primarily to encourage those early followers of Jesus in their Christian lives. Today’s words from Luke are no exception. We see Jesus’ followers saying “Please give us more faith—we don’t have enough—we can’t do anything as we are. We’re weak and you are so holy and we want to be like you.”
This idea of receiving more faith is worth exploring this morning.
As we grow up our minds develop in many different ways. Our experiences and our insight into people—their ideas and their problems—grows deeper. At the same time, unless we have allowed ourselves to become bogged down by some rigidity in our religious thinking, or if for some reason—maybe the reason of neglect—we’re not taught anything about God—then there comes a time in our lives when our idea of God grows like our ideas about ourselves and others.
And out of this time comes an awe-struck humility that who we once worshiped as God is really only a small part of God’s vast purpose and presence. As a matter of fact, the vastness of God is beyond any human comprehension at all.
If we cling to a desperate loyalty in a limited view of God, then we find ourselves with a belief that doesn’t satisfy our spiritual longing. But if we’re wise, we launch out into the deep and allow every true experience of life—every touch or sight of goodness—every truth or beauty—to open a fresh window into the limitless magnificence of God.
We can’t hold too big a picture of God, but the more our hearts and minds and imaginations are stretched, the more astounding comes a central fact of human life—that so infinite a God has allowed himself to be, so to speak, scaled down to fit the narrow limits of what our minds, as humans, can grasp.
For all of God’s vastness and mystery, God has made himself known to us. And it is through having accepted this fact that we view all that we see and all that we discover about God through the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
This is what those early disciples began to realize. “Open our minds to faith.” “Tell us more.” “Help us to understand what our lives are about.” Because those early followers of Jesus wanted to reach out and allow every true experience of life, every touch, every goodness, to bring them something new about God.
You and I have that opportunity as well—right here, right now, in this very place, in this very room. Because we are called by the incredible generosity of God to take our place alongside Jesus in the mission of bringing love to this world of ours.
Maybe this idea is scary—it was scary to the disciples. Perhaps it fills us with anxiety—it did to those early followers.
But God did something for them and God does something—today—for you and me.
God gives to us a sense of God’s presence and power.
The problem is that our response to that presence and power often reduces our faith level to a performance which we believe may please God.
To the early Christians, their faith was plainly the invasion of a new quality of life. But sometimes our lack of faith in God-within-us is that prevents God’s power from helping us be faithful believers. There often is a strenuous quality to our faith—and far too little confidence in the quiet confidence that God can give us. This is one of those ideas that we’re quick to dismiss, robbing us of the belief that there is something of God within us.
The early experience of Jesus’ followers was not that God was just an eternal power and authority, but that God was the one who lived within them—transforming their thinking and feeling, renewing their minds, inspiring their hearts. That kind of thinking was revolutionary, and we ought to ask ourselves whether this revolution has taken place inside of us. For as long as we don’t believe this, then faith just remains an intellectual thought. It won’t have any noticeable effect upon our lives.
We’re so slow to believe this. We—like those disciples—continually ask for more faith, without the realization that God’s amazing generosity has called us to be God’s children and implants the heredity of faith within us. These are breathtaking promises and gifts which are offered to us.
With God in their lives, the disciples’ faith flourished. They were the pioneers of a new humanity. They showed the fruits of the Spirit in human lives for the entire world to see.
Lord, increase our faith—and give us the courage to believe
This is the faith that we will receive—this is faith meant for us.