How much faith do we need; not much it turns out Luke 17:6 a sermon for BCP by Revd. Alex Pease

Luke 17/6

How do you have faith to travel on an aeroplane?

30,000 feet in the air, all dependent upon two or four great engines, which might go wrong at any moment?  Of course, some people don’t have faith that it will be alright. I believe there are clinics for this sort of phobia.

Or here is a better example….

How do you know that it is safe to jump out of an aircraft and rely on a parachute?

Well many of us might not think it is safe at all, but we don’t call that a ‘phobia’.

I can remember thinking that myself as we taxied along the runway at an airport in California 30 years ago, knowing that I was not going to come down in that plane.

So how do you go about thinking that jumping out of a plane is a sensible, a rational, thing to do?  How can you have faith that you are not going to die when you do it? 

Well, the first time, you take a view based upon reasoning.  Firstly, you have it explained to you.  Someone says something to you about physics, how the parachute works, the practical points of what you have to do to stop yourself getting tangled in it, as you fall from12500 feet at terminal velocity; the theory if you like, and secondly, your form an impression of the people who have done it before and whether you think they are reliable or just plain nuts….

So, you rely upon the explanation that you are given and the experience of others.

Then you take a step of faith, quite a small one, depending upon those two things and it all turns out to be fine….

Once you have done it once, you know that it is going to be fine and you don’t have to rely on anyone else’s experience any more, you can look back to your own experience.

It’s like that with faith in God, because faith in God, is trust in God.

Most Christians are able to rely on God because they know that he has been faithful to them in the past. That they have placed their worries and fears on his shoulders, things that seem like impossible obstacles.

They have been right to do so, because even if things have not worked out as we wanted them to do so, we see the wisdom in things happening in the way they did; that we have perhaps grown, despite the pain.

But we have to trust him once, before we discover that, before our faith can grow… trust Him, even if everything is going badly wrong, that he is with us in it all

But what about trusting him when the outcome isn’t just dangerous, but highly improbable?

We may all remember what Alice in Wonderland said to the Red Queen: Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day….’

Does trusting God to solve some terrible problem ever seem like believing an impossible thing?

So it is with the mustard seed which Jesus uses as an illustration.  The seed is so tiny that we cannot expect really anything from it, and yet with what God provides: the rain and the sunshine, it grows into this huge tree.  So too with faith, from a faith as tremulous and trivial, as tiny little mustard seed, can grow a faith in a God who can do impossible things in very unlikely circumstances; a faith in a God who can even pull up a tree with difficult roots like the mulberry and plant it in the sea!  The sort of idea that the Red Queen might come up with!

The key to remember is that it is a tiny faith in a great God is what we are talking about.

What can happen is not what we perceive to be possible or likely….but what God can do which consistently astonishes even his most ardent believers.

So we need to recognise that even if we only have a tiny little speck of faith, a tiny little speck of trust, that we have it in the Creator of the Universe and with it, as we trust him, he can do astonishing things


Luke 17:5-6

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 

 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Lk 17:5–6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.


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