A preacher friend gave me some advice a long time ago. He said “never preach more faith than you have.” I have tried to honor that advice. So, as a minister I try to avoid “saying a few words” about things I know nothing about, but I also try to speak only about the faith I have, and not what people expect me to have. It is easy to stand in a pulpit and get “carried away” in the moment and say things that people want to hear. Doing so evokes lots of amens, and amens are to a preacher’s ear what votes are to a politician’s and ratings are to a cable news announcer. Politicians and media types, as well as preachers, can be guilty of saying what people want to hear—of playing to their audience.
Let’s be people of faith, who don’t try to exaggerate the faith that we have. We don’t need to pretend that we are something we are not. All of us, most of us, have some faith. We may have some doubt too. Jesus told a story about a mustard seed and said that with a little faith the size of a mustard seed, we can make a huge difference in our lives and in the world. You just might be surprised what can come of this tiny seed.
If Jesus were teaching today in America, he would probably not use a mustard seed as an example; I’m guessing he would talk about baseball. He would say something about how a simple bunt can change the course of a game. Dansby Swanson’s bloop single can have as much impact as an Acuna or Freeman long ball. A hit that travels about 10 or 15 feet can dramatically change the outcome of a World Series game.
Some of us, with our meager faith, feel like we could never make a difference in the world. Wrong, says Jesus.
Let me give an example.
After school one day a young kid named Kyle was walking home. He was carrying an arm full of books. Another kid from his class saw him and thought, “He must be a nerd. Who else would carry all those books home?” A bunch of other kids, mean kids, knocked Kyle down, his books scattered and his glasses were knocked ten feet away. This other kid from class stopped to help Kyle up and helped to pick up his glasses. He said to Kyle, “They are a bunch of jerks.”
He found out that he and Kyle lived near one another and they became friends. Over the years their friendship developed. When they were seniors, Kyle was Valedictorian and headed to Georgetown and the other boy went to Duke.
Kyle gave the Valedictorian speech at graduation. He was a bit nervous. As he began his speech he cleared his throat and said he needed to thank some people who had meant so much to him. He looked at his friend and told the story about being at school as a little boy and the day that the bullies had knocked him down. He said his arms were full of books that day because he had decided to take his own life, and he had cleaned out his locker of all his books so that his mom would not have to after his death. He looked at his friend and said, “Your act of kindness that day saved my life.”
That’s a good story. The kingdom of God is like that.
The Kingdom of God is full of surprises. What is the kingdom of God like? It is like a bunt in baseball or like a small seed in farming. You have to plant it. That little bit of faith, of work, of commitment grows and grows and grows. It is not a grand slam home run. It is a team working together to accomplish the work of God. It is piecing together my little faith and your little faith, my little talent and your little talent; my small commitment and yours, and wow, then you have something.
In God’s kingdom there are no insignificant deeds, words, or people.