Jesus pulled back any limits on what faith can perform when he said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence unto yonder place; and it shall remove; an nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matt. 17:20 KJV) This brings to mind when a guide in the land of Israel stopped our tour group some year’s ago and crushed a pod from a mustard plant to show how tiny a mustard seed really is. It looked like someone had shaken a few little pieces from a pepper shaker.
This understanding of faith came from the lips of Jesus right after he had cured a man whom the disciples could not heal. Jesus said their failure was due to their unbelief. Jesus didn’t say that any sizes of faith fits all needed situations. Neither did he say that to remove a mountain you need to have elephant size faith. It is comforting to know that a mustard seed size faith can be used to accomplish great things.
So, how do we activate this mustard seed size faith to accomplish great things? If we are dealing with a serious illness we can call for the elders of the church for anointing (James 5). If we read a simple commandment in the Bible we can decide to obey it. If we sense an inner urge to witness to a fellow worker we can express it. Aren’t you glad that Jesus didn’t tell you to go to the local zoo and look at a pen of elephants and ponder how you might develop a big, big faith? It is a little faith in a big God that gets the job done.
In James 5, a description of the anointing is given and “the prayer of faith shall save the sick.” But in James 4 it is stated that “if the Lord wills we shall live and do this or that.” It can be cruel to tell a person who is dealing with a serious illness that if they would have more faith they would be healed. It could be a lack of faith or a failure to apply the mustard seed size faith that we do have.
The anointing service begins with a short prayer seeking to prepare each person present to receive God’s blessing. It continues with the reading a few verses from James 5. It includes the applying of a few small drops of oil on the forehead and it concludes with the laying on of hands and a simple prayer for God’s will to be done. Wow! That’s the simple formula for applying mustard seed size faith to a needy situation. Try it and don’t be surprised if you get elephant size results.
Jim Myer – CBC Executive Board