In Praise of Little Faith

So I saw the following quote once or twice,

Mustard Seed

Little faith says, God can do it.” Big faith says, “God will do it.” But great faith says, It is done, for nothing is impossible with God.” What should my response be?

Being a navy officer in the past, as well as a mechanical design engineer, does not necessarily help one develop positive social skills. My roles in missions (teaching seminary classes and seminars, and acting as an NGO administrator) don’t help that much either. They both tempt one to pontificate and be bossy.

I restrained myself from comment recognizing that the quote is in some way pleasant and “affirming.” I did not want to sound like a military officer/ engineer/ professor/ administrator. However, I have been seeing the quote more and more. I have thought that perhaps some constructive comment is appropriate and give appropriate praise to “Little Faith.” Okay, here are my issues.

  1. “Nothing is impossible with God.” Yes, this is a grumpy complaint. I realize that. However, if this one is straightened out, the bigger issue begins to clean itself up. No one reading the Bible can come to the conclusion that nothing is impossible with God. We would like to say that God cannot sin, or lie. Orthodox theology (as drawn from Scripture) would add that God is not limited in anything that is limited by power. Some would add that “God cannot fail” but by this they mean that “God cannot fail in something He has chosen to succeed in.” For example if I say that I choose that it not rain today, and it rains, I could say that “God failed to keep it from raining” but in truth the failure was on my part because if God had chosen to keep it from raining, it would not rain. That’s the point. The quote above would become more accurate if one says “Nothing is impossible if God wills it so.”
  2. If the third part of the quote is only true if constrained by God’s will, it is even more true if we go to the second section. “Big faith says ‘God will do it!’” It is clear in the Bible that God does not always do things. To say that He will because we have “big faith” begs the question of what our faith is “big” in. After all, Jesus conformed His will to that of the Father. Paul accepted God’s will not to do what he wanted on more than one occasion. James points out the importance of recognizing that God’s will is independent of our own and above our own. Statements regarding the power of prayer are constrained to God’s will. For example “Whatever you ask in My name” means that what we ask is limited to His will. “In My name” is a term of ambassadorship. We are doing what we are told as ambassadors of Christ, not telling Christ what to do. Saying “God will do it” means we know exactly what God’s specific will is. Since we commonly don’t know God’s specific will in a specific time and circumstance, the “Big faith” described in this quote appears to be “Big faith in myself.” That is not Christian faith.
  3. The first part of the quote appears to be the most solid. Those with little faith say “God can do it.” It recognizes God’s ability without presuming God’s will. I guess, I would prefer to modify the quote here a bit still. “Little faith says, “God can do it, and I will trust Him!”

To me, that is Christian faith. Trusting God means trusting Him more than we trust ourselves.

My prayer for each of you is that you have “Little Faith!”

2 thoughts on “In Praise of Little Faith

  1. Pingback: the rebirth of God « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality

  2. Pingback: God as a Big Purple Dinosaur « MMM — Munson Mission Musings

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