Will Your Faith Cut the Mustard?

Powerful or puny? Which one best describes your faith? To borrow on the words of Jesus, sort of…will your faith cut the mustard? (Remember what he said about the mustard seed?) Here's a little story, a fable about the power in believing. Rosalie believed. In Martin, yes. In his genius as a physicist, of course. She held fast to her love for him. And to its power to make all things new. But she could not agree with his absolute reliance on science alone, or his insistence that the border of life really is the grave. Nothing more. No Maker at the start. No Redeemer at the end. Now the story is: Martin died. (Or did he dream it?) Anyway, he saw himself approaching some eternal crossing, a gate really, through which it appeared he could not go. He felt himself drifting, even pulled away. Then suddenly, this, this Presence appeared. 'Walked up and leaned on the gatepost and peered out and called across this gulf to him by name. "Martin, why would you want to leave me? I am your Father, your Maker, the First Cause of all your lifetime of theorems and experiments. But you would not speak to me. You refused me. And even my Son whom I sent for you. So now, I have to walk all the way down to the front gate of the Eternal, just to talk with you." Well, Martin was stunned. This did not compute. How could it be? "Then why, Sir, would you speak to me," Martin cried out to God. "For one reason only," came the reply. "Your lover, Rosalie, requested it, in the name of my Son." Dear Rosalie. There's a faith that cuts the mustard. 'Moves even more than mountains. Faith like Rosalie's moves the heart of God.

Christ says just a mustard seed of faith can move mountains. What would it take us to get such a faith? A trip up the mountain! A vision of Jesus, changed from inside out! Revealed, so that we can see who and what he really is! That's the first thing to take home from the Gospel today. Are you willing? From the 12, the Lord takes 3 to the top of the mountain. In the Bible, that's where people come to see God. Noah, Moses, Elijah, now Jesus. For this purpose the Master is willing to struggle to climb up all the steep and the rough places, to risk the ravines and ford the down-rushing waters that could wash him away… just to get there. Peter, James and John are willing too. (Maybe before we can have the faith to move mountains… we must come to the faith to climb them. What do you think? If Jesus invited you up the mount, would you go with him?) Will your faith cut the mustard?

What next? Jesus is transfigured before them. Changed. His face shines like the sun, his garments white as light. What we see here is not God applying to Jesus, lathering on, something more. No, here's God lighting up what's inside Jesus to begin with. He's ignited by the power, the energy, of God. His true self within can now be seen from without. This is spiritual x-ray, CAT scan, PET scan, broadcast C Span (See Span) all rolled into one. Moses and Elijah are here, talking with him. To him. In him. Jesus is absorbing the word. (That silly Sears jingle is serious now, "It's all inside.") All that God wants from us, that deep spiritual obedience to his Law, is within Jesus. There's more. Elijah's there. There to say all God wants to give to us is in Jesus. The cross will be the sign. Elijah says, "Jesus, when you go down this mountain headed for Jerusalem, you're goin' the right way!" Anybody here got a mustard seed's worth of faith? Enough to walk with Jesus?

OK, we can't just stay on the mountaintop, any more than Peter and the rest. But to have the faith that moves mountains, we need to get on top of at least one, just long enough to see Heaven itself point to Jesus and say, "This is my beloved Son. He pleases me; listen to him." We need some time on our knees, on our faces. And we need to say, "Awesome!" (I know I've fallen on my face, many a time, for less. …You?) Then Jesus will come and touch and bless us, saying, "Rise, and have no fear." (Can you imagine that? No fear!) And after that, we too will have eyes for Jesus, only Jesus. Somebody, every year, complains when we read this story, "Reverend, why on earth do we need to hear that story. It's so fantastic, out of touch, out of date, irrelevant, strange!" And it is. If you're still lookin' somewhere else for a Savior. If you're still afraid. Or don't know which way to turn in your life. But… climb this mountain with the Master, and then, then you'll know. We need to read this story! Live it! Because we're changed by it too!
Now, you begin to understand…
We too have to come down off the mountain and try out our faith. It's enough to cast out demons! Jesus shows us. And all it takes is a mustard seed's worth. 'Nothin' watered down here. This is faith from concentrate! Powerful stuff. To be tried in all the trying times and places of life. They came down to a crowd, and a desperate man came to Christ. "Lord, have mercy on my son, he suffers terribly. I brought him to your disciples, and they couldn't heal him." Isn't this the truth! We never get to stay on the mountain. Church on Sunday gives way to work or school on Monday. There's always a "first day back off vacation!" Ugh! (For 10 years in a row, I got back from vacations, then less than a week, to somebody literally waiting on the front or back steps of the parsonage for help. I'm not proud of how I felt about those folks by about guy No. 6!) Graduations (now comin' on fast) don't last long. (My sister graduated college on Sunday and gave the whole family food poisoning with Monday night's supper! Oh, well…) Some thing or some body, demon possessed, always seems near at hand and making demand. Now here's the thing. Without Jesus, without the mountaintop, we are too weak in our faith to cast out the demons. Jesus understands. And should we ask, "Why could we not cast the demon out?" our Jesus still responds, "Because of your little faith. Sometimes it's smaller than a mustard grain's. Why, if you had even that tiny seed's worth, you could tell the tallest mountain to move. And it would! Everything would be possible!"

Don't miss the promise. Trust in the One we've seen inside-out, this Jesus, and the seemingly impossible becomes the surprisingly doable. Not because of us, but because of Christ inside us! Paul's right, "… Not I, but by the grace of God in me." (I Cor. 15: 10) A mustard's worth will do! Look, she was under 5'2". On the street. No job. No prospects. A single mother. Hungry. Dirty. Broke, but not broken. Nothing special or different from us, by her own admission. She knew two things. "God is a very present help in trouble." And she knew Jesus. Jesus saves. She trusted, in that tiny little bit of hope. Somebody helped. In Jesus' name, chased her demons. And that made her a demon chaser too. She got more than clean, more than a job, more than a home, more than a meal for her kids. She got together meals for a city of kids, threw open her doors to make a community for the homeless, gave help to the helpless, and quickened the conscience of thousands. Baltimore makes a big deal out of this little woman's birthday this weekend. We'll celebrate Bea Gaddy. But a friend of mine tells a story from her bedside days before her death. When Bea was asked how she did it, what made her so special, she scoffed (if someone so ill can do that). She just said, "All I had was a seed. That's all. I just believed. The rest wasn't up to me." Bea knew. In faith, a mustard's worth moves mountains

So, will your faith cut the mustard? Jesus wants to know.
It'll take just three things. We need to be willing to walk uphill with Jesus. To keep climbing, clinging, struggling, holding onto each other, and holding onto him when the going gets tough. But it's worth it to get to the top of the mountain with him. We need to see and hear when our moment comes! This Jesus is the Son of God. The Savior. The one with the power to put the devil at the hindmost and fear in its place. And we need to come down from the high places to best the demons in the low places. Our own. And one another's. Faith like that cuts the mustard. And it only takes a little to do a lot. Jesus says so. And an ordinary little lady from Baltimore says, "Amen." Somebody sent me an email the other day that seems the fitting finish of the message. The next time you wonder whether God can use you, in the name of Jesus, try to remember,

  • Noah was an alcoholic, Abraham too old.
  • Isaac a daydreamer, Jacob a liar.
  • Leah was not the "prettiest one"
  • Joseph was abused.
  • Moses stuttered
  • Gideon was afraid.
  • Sampson was a longhaired womanizer
  • Rehab a prostitute
  • Jeremiah & Timothy, too young.
  • David had an affair & was a murderer.
  • Elijah was suicidal,
  • Isaiah preached naked,
  • Jonah ran from God,
  • Naomi was a widow,
  • Job went bankrupt.
  • John the Baptist ate bugs,
  • Peter denied Christ,
  • The Disciples fell asleep praying,
  • Martha worried at everything.
  • Zaccheus was too small,
  • Paul was too religious,
  • AND Lazarus was dead! …

You and I are out of excuses. God can use us to our full potential too. Besides we aren't the message, just the messenger. All we need is to believe. So…
Will your faith cut the mustard?

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