Jesus said, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed...." And He said it, essentially, twice.
A few days ago, I was writing a reflection on this idea and how it relates to having just enough faith to grow something out of it. I was trying to come up with what it meant to have a little faith, and I wrote something like this:
"If you start to pray and get at least through the 'Dear Lord,' then you have enough faith to grow. If you get even one syllable of the song right, whether on-key or off-key or even out of place, then you have enough faith to grow. If you don't know where that verse is in the Bible, but you're at least willing to Google it, then you have enough faith to grow."
I really wrestled with this for the longest time. I wrestled because I know that there are going to be some persons who read that and think I'm demanding too much. That believe that God is satisfied by your own wanting to maybe sort of potentially one day think about having faith, and that this maybe sort of potentially one day thinking is enough. That think that God would never require that we even get through the "Dear Lord;" God only requires that we know that we can pray, not that we actually do it. That think that worship is about listening to the music, not singing it. That think that it's perfectly fine not to know where things are in the Bible, as long as you know that they're in there. (Fun fact: a lot of very popular phrases that sound kind of Christian-like are not actually in the Bible anywhere. Like "God helps those who help themselves." It's not in there. But ask someone who doesn't think God requires anything of them except to sort of kind of know, and they'll tell you that it's biblical and that's enough for them. There are some pretty hilarious studies on these sorts of things.)
So I wrestled with it, knowing that there would probably be some backlash for presenting an image of God that requires something from His people more than just their occasional happy thoughts and last-ditch efforts at problem management.
But I went ahead with it and let it go to print. Why?
Because I don't think I'm wrong on this one.
I don't think I'm wrong to say that God requires something of us. I don't think I'm wrong to say that God demands that we at least try. It's unpopular in today's culture, and we've become so afraid of expecting anything from anyone that we've really gone lax on everything. We've got a Jesus in our world who doesn't care what you do and loves you unconditionally and is going to take you to Heaven just for having existed and being relatively "good," and this Jesus is competing against the One who dripped bloody beads of sweat in the Garden and poured out His life on the Cross.
This Jesus that our world has, He's everybody's friend, but somewhere, we lost the Jesus who is specifically friend to sinners. This Jesus that our world has, His cross is a symbol, not a sacrifice. This Jesus that our world has, He meets them in the most dark and sinful places, not because it's the sick who need a healer, but because Jesus is, you know, "cool" like that. This Jesus that the world has...He's nothing like my Lord.
And I'm done letting this world pretend that Jesus is just "cool" like that.
But in order to understand how truly amazing Jesus is, you have to enter into a real relationship with Him. You've got to get into the covenant. You've got to live your life in a way that's connected to the truth of His identity. And that means that you've got to understand that He requires something from you. Not a lot. Just a mustard seed.
Still, you've got to try. You've got to do one thing, one small little thing, that shows that you're moving in a God-ward direction. You've got to do one thing, one small little thing, that shows that you're putting some skin in the game. You've got to do one thing, one small little thing, that shows that when you say, "Lord, Lord," you know what that means. Otherwise, this Jesus, this real Jesus, He's going to say, "I never knew you."
Come to find out, you never knew Him, either.