Following a passage where they are brought to task to rebuke those who sin, and then to forgive them if they repent. Okay - but then how often? We are admonished that 7 times a day isn't too much. C'mon isn't that bit much? Even the apostles must have thought so because that is where verse 5 begins. 'Add faith to us' ask the apostles - if you expect THIS of us.
Jesus' response at first glance sounds like another rebuke, and yet it is not. He says - 'If you have faith of a grain of mustard' you would have asked this, and it would have happened. And this isn't a hopeful 'if only you could have had enough faith'. The intent behind these Greek words in this type conditional statement is that - yes, you do have this faith! And that faith is enough.
In these verses, Jesus is telling us that we are powerful enough. Matthew and Mark would have us move a mountian with our faith, and for Luke it is just a tree. However, watching my neighbors dig up a simple little tree last week - it may be equally impossible tasks for me physically to accomplish.
So we are left thinking that we aren't powerful enough, and Jesus immediately tells us - YES you are. You have all the power of God behind you if you but trust it. So we puff up our chests and begin to issue the commands. But oops - the next parable is enough to take anyone down a peg or two.
Does a slave get praised for doing what is expected of them? Does the slave expect gratitude and reward for doing what the slave is supposed to do? I just don't know. Not only am I cynical that my faith doesn't measure up, I don't get slaves. Thankfully, I have never been one nor in a situation that has slavery.
Yet, we are all woefully familiar with people NOT doing what is expected as the basis of their jobs. In any service industry these days it is more the norm for employees offering me a service to seem as if they need superior thanks to do just the basics of their job if htey can be bothered at all, and our government seems paralyzed beyond ability to do their jobs of working as a body together to coordinate and run our nation.
When we are empowered and know it, we want thanks for using that power. But it is our responsibility to use all the power we do have in serving others. We are all guilty here with those two sets of people I mentioned above. We feel inadequate for the big challenges and need to trust. Faith the size of a mustard grain - yes the size of yours and mine - gives us the power. The power to change lives, the power to stand trees in the ocean, and to move mountains. The power is given for us to serve. Not for thanks, not to differentiate us one from the other. Not to stand in judgement of one another.
We are empowered by the Holy Spirit - with enough faith to live side by side. To repent and forgive, to build relationship together. We have enough faith to serve without expectation of a return favor, or a bonus on the other end for us. We are to serve as Jesus served, looking out for the weak and the lowly. We are to be in community with all without separations of rungs of power but each harnessed together doing the work of the Kingdom of God on earth. Amen.