So yesterday was a weird day for my kids and dental work. I took our daughter to the dentist to make sure that there wasn’t any lasting damage to her teeth caused by her catching her fall into her brother’s bedframe with her mouth. And I took our oldest son to the dentist at the same time to finally get his tooth fix, which he broke back in February. Both were scared, because the dentist is scary. Both didn’t want to go, because the dentist isn’t a fun place. Both were very nervous because we usually associate the dentist with pain.
Also, we associate pain with pain, so maybe that had something to do with it as well.
And while one handled it a lot better than the other, I mean literally one was in tears at the thought of going to the dentist, both went and had their work done and both came out better for it.
Thankfully, our daughter’s teeth are fine, just a bit swollen (ok, a LOT swollen) around the gums and upper lip, and our son has a brand new tooth that reminds us of how yellow his other teeth are. Both didn’t want to go, both were scared, but both received the royal treatment and were taken care of.
It helps that their dentist is pretty awesome too.
So many times I hear people talk about this gospel text as encouraging because if we know that small faith can do so much, imagine how much our much larger faith would be able to do. While I do this this passage is encouraging, it isn’t because of that. In fact, I see Jesus calling his disciples out for being a bunch of dorks again.
I mean think about it, these guys went and asked Jesus for more faith. Actually no, they didn’t ask, they demanded Jesus do this for them. The nerve! And so I see Jesus reacting like how any of us would when someone demands something from us, we tell them to bugger off!
Jesus says if you had faith the size of the mustard seed, you can do all these amazing things. And… you can’t do those amazing things, so what does that tell you? He says you don’t treat people equally, you don’t look out for the needs of others, you don’t even see past your own desires and comforts. In other words, you don’t deserve it.
Ouch. You might be wondering where the encouraging part is, because really if we think about it, Jesus is describing all of us as well. We are fearful, we worry, we doubt. We are scared of things that we’re told time and again that we needn’t be scared of. Simply put, we lack faith just as the disciples did.
But (and this is the encouraging part), that doesn’t stop Jesus from loving us. That doesn’t stop God from saving us. That doesn’t stop us from being God’s beloved children, welcomed into the kingdom, and walking alongside Jesus for all of eternity.
See, our faith isn’t the measure of how we are regarded. Our boldness and confidence and ability to move shrubbery into large bodies of water using only our minds are not ways in which God loves us. Our fear does not disqualify us from God’s unending grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
For we have the Holy Spirit living in us, a Spirit of generosity and community, reminding us that while we are sinners, God chooses to love us and fill us with undeserved value and worth.
And to me, that is very encouraging!
Have a great week, everyone!