Jesus said that if we had faith as small as a mustard seed, we could move mountains. But how many times have we tried moving mountains, contending for breakthrough, or praying for healing only to be left with disappointments, loss, and grief?
And it doesn’t help when we hear people say:
“God hasn’t done ____________ because you don’t have enough faith.”
“My faith isn’t strong enough, and that’s why God hasn’t answered my prayers.”
“You just need faith as tiny as a mustard seed.”
“Your faith must be on your own strength and not in God’s”
So sometimes thinking about faith, we can’t help but feel some sort of heaviness attached to it? Or maybe even a little bit of shame?
The message we start to believe is that we either have or we don’t. Great faith is only reserved for the super-spiritual who prays and reads their bible 3 hours a day.
The Mustard Tree of Faith
Last year, I bought a bonsai tree. Bonsai trees are trees or shrubs grown in a pot and artificially prevented from reaching their normal size. Just search up how beautiful they can be. Which is why I wanted to buy one. But the practice of pruning and cultivating and shaping the tree to make it look like what you want takes so much patience. You can even have a bonsai tree that can grow for over 100 years.
A couple of months ago, I started noticing the green, lushes leaves on my tree were turning into a murky brown. I didn’t know what was happening. I’m unsure if it was because of how I pruned it or because I was overwatering it. It may be both.
I’ve been thinking about faith all this week. Pete and I were talking about it last week sharing my insight and he gave me the honor of teaching a little bit to his Head to Heart group last night. And I can’t help but connect how faith is like my bonsai tree.
In Luke 13:18 -19, Jesus shared a parable that completely changed my perspective on faith.
“So He was saying, “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? It is like a MUSTARD SEED, which a man took and threw into his OWN garden; and it GREW and BECAME a tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches. – Luke 13:18-19
What if we’ve had a limited understanding of what faith is?
What if Jesus wasn’t comparing faith to the mustard seed in relation to size but to its potential and capacity for growth?
If a small mustard seed can grow into a tree, then how big can our faith grow? When Jesus said to “seek first the Kingdom and all of these things will be added into you,” He has defined the object of our faith. That’s the faith we get to OWN and plant in our hearts, so it can GROW, and BECOME a tree that others can find shelter in.
Transformed to Bring Transformation
Here’s my prophetic encouragement for us as a church, I see Living Waters becoming a community of mustard trees growing to our capacity to the degree of our willingness to face our fears and confront our pain. And at the same time becoming aware and okay with our current faith capacity and the condition of our tree without falling into shame and condemnation and comparison.
Where do we need sunlight? Are we being overwatered or underwatered? What is the condition of our soil? Where do we need pruning?
It’s fascinating to think that bonsai trees are grown intentionally to prevent it from growing like normal trees. It’s harnessed and cultivated for a specific reason and purpose. It’s set apart.
But the only difference between a bonsai tree and us is that Heaven is our container. We have the capacity to grow to our full potential. If we are to be a community that is continually becoming more like Jesus, cultivating the Kingdom of God within us will take patience and grace, and love to ourselves and to one another.
And just like Ryan said last Sunday, “as followers of Jesus, we ARE DISTINCT from the world, UNIQUE in the world as we REMAIN AVAILABLE to the world.” We are a people being transformed to bring transformation.
That’s the faith that can move mountains.