Can we talk about your faith for a minute?
Specifically, can we talk about how much faith you have?
I just want to tell you that you have enough. Yes. Enough. There’s no catch. It’s that simple, you have enough. Good for you.
I think we can easily get used to thinking that we always need more, like there’s a measurement of some kind and we never have enough. We’re always hearing that doubt’s bad, as if it’s the opposite of faith, and if we just had more faith, things would turn out the way we want them to.
Except that’s not how faith works, doubt’s not the opposite of faith, fear is, and faith doesn’t just make things be what we want.
You know that story about Jesus walking across the rough waters to the disciples’ boat one morning? It’s recorded in the gospels of Mark, Matthew and John, but Matthew throws in the added detail of Peter (“The Rock,” long before Dwayne Johnson), not certain that it’s Jesus, saying “if it’s really you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Of course, Jesus does and Peter steps out on to the water, walking towards Jesus. But Peter is distracted by the wind and rough seas and becomes afraid. He starts to sink and calls to Jesus to save him. Jesus does ands says “you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
What we hear is Jesus criticizing Peter’s faith and his doubt, whether that’s in himself responding to Jesus’ command to come to him or in believing that it’s really Jesus. We hear that Peter didn’t have enough faith and there you go, it’s an example for us: it’s about what we don’t have. We need more faith and doubt is what’s holding us back.
But what if we heard something different. What if we could hear the tone of Jesus’ voice and heard the Jesus who keeps encouraging people. Remember all those times Jesus said to people “your faith has healed you” or “your faith has made you whole?” That was sure enough.
Listen, what if it went something like this. The disciples see a figure walking towards them on the water. They’re already nervous with the weather and now this. The figure says it’s Jesus, but Peter wants to check it out. Believing it to be Jesus, Peter steps out on the water. He’s doing fine - being Jesus - until he’s afraid of the wind. He calls out to Jesus who saves him. And Jesus says: Good for you, Peter! Look what you did with just a little faith! If only you hadn’t become afraid and doubted yourself. Remember a couple of chapters back when I said to you “go and be me” to people? See, you can do it. Look what you did - you stepped out of the boat. You weren’t afraid to take the risk and step out. You started the journey and when you needed help, you reached out for me. And where was I? Right here.
Maybe, if that were the story we heard, we might know that all it takes is a little faith to step out on the journey. And, instead of being afraid, we might share our real doubts and questions and learn from them. Because that’s what happens. We step out with the faith we have, we use it and we grow in faith by asking questions and learning. That’s why we share the stories of Jesus, so we’ll learn that a little faith is all that’s needed to get started. And when we need help, God’s right there to hold us up, just like Jesus.
See, a little is enough. Use it.