Christians get excited when we hear Jesus say, If you have faith as small as a mustard seed. NIV Many of us have tried to move mountains with faith when instead we should have been moving the mountains that separate us from God and other people.
Take, for example, the mountain that separates Christians from Moslems. It is easy for Christians to see the followers of Mohammad as terrorists and as corrupters of the faith, not to mention wrong. Even as Mohammad placed Jesus near the top of the list of great prophets, he placed himself at the top. We Christians disagree with that thinking.
Still, Roman Catholics long disagreed with Eastern Orthodox until 1054 when the Great Schism occurred, and each side excommunicated the other (not lifted until 1965). A mountain of long standing.
We could make a long list of disagreements between, and among, every denomination and faith group. One of the ‘most important’ disputes in recent years has to do with the music played and sung in Sunday services.
We tend to forget the other words of Jesus, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. NIV
We also forget to read the rest of today’s passage from Luke. When you have done everything you were told to do, you should be saying, ‘We’re just ordinary slaves, we have only done our duty.’ CJB What is our duty as slaves of the Messiah? To love God and to love our fellow humans.
In ancient times, a slave was the representative of his master. The slave was to do the things the master would do if he had the time (or inclination). In the case of Jesus, he had a small window of time in which to do his work. His work was to develop a small cadre of followers, the Twelve plus one to two hundred other disciples, to take up his work and carry it into the rest of the world and the rest of time. His other duty was, of course, to be the Sacrificial Lamb.
With Paul we can say, I know the one in whom I have placed my confidence, and I am perfectly certain that the work he has committed to me is safe in his hands until that day. Phillips And with Paul we should say, So don’t be ashamed of bearing testimony to our Lord or to me, his prisoner. On the contrary, accept your share in suffering disgrace for the sake of the Good News. CJB
We are not very good with the suffering disgrace business. When non-believers attack us for our beliefs, we prefer to return the attack, even to the point of shutting them up. We forget that Jesus, our Master, has not given us the duty of attacking his opponents. We are to love. Not love is a mushy world, but in a hard world under the power of the Father of Lies.
Imagine, if you can, that you are safely on the Omaha beach in France, June 6, 1944. You see the head of a German soldier firing an MG 42 at the rate of 20 rounds per second into your fellow soldiers. Does love demand that you refuse to kill the German, or does it demand that you shoot? If you pull your trigger, you will commit murder; if you don’t, your buddies will continue to die. Wouldn’t that also be murder?
But let’s look more closely. The German was drafted into the army, even as he hates the Nazis. He attended church two days before and every Sunday before that, army life permitting. He loves God and wants to do His Will.
Being a slave of Jesus is not easy in this world. Sometimes we are forced to do what is in its self a sin to do the least harm. Personally, I believe that my shooting the German (not likely as I was still in diapers) and his shooting many Americans would be equal moral sins, but ones which Jesus would cleanse away.
The real mountain moving would come for me in learning to live with that murder—having the faith that God can accept the blood stain of murder on me.
Be righteous and do good.