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For top Christians only

The apostles said to the Lord [AD 30], “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ” Luke 17: 5-10
Top Christians? Have you noticed how certain Christians are being identified as “top” in Jersey?

Some Christians are called, “Father ..” or “Reverend ...” The former indicates a person who is to be regarded as a patrician in the Christian family. The latter indicates a person who is being shown reverence by the Christian family.

Some Christian groups have Pastors but often one sees the title “Senior Pastor”. And, by the way, does a “Superintendent Minister” top a “Bishop”?

But the title “apostle” is regarded by virtually all Christian groups with some awe. What does it mean? “Sent-out-ones.”  In his first-century biography of Jesus Luke records that quite early on in his public life Jesus “called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles..” Apostles were the original top twelve disciples. 

‘Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.’ (T S Eliot, poet and playwright, 1888-1965)
Wonder of wonders then that (see bold above) it’s these apostles who say “to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”” So far so good but Jesus’ response remains a real conundrum. “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” What on earth was the meaning of Jesus’ reply to the request of these top Christians?

Earlier in Luke’s biography he records Jesus teaching this parallel around AD 27. “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” 

This comparison of the kingdom of God with a grain of mustard seed can be seen as a likeness as well as a contrast – a look alike which, on close comparison is not the real thing.

The kingdom of God is to be compared with a man planting a tiny mustard seed in his own garden and leaving it grow and grow until it becomes a tree in which all kinds of evil lodge. (Birds of the air are often symbolic of intangible evil.) The tiny seed of self-interest becomes the kingdom – the kingdom of the man, not the kingdom of God. The kingdom, even, of religious man.

What could this seed represent? Could it be the tiny seed of self-interest which grows in my garden through life? During the course of my life do I, out of self-interest, allow evils to creep in and take place, and harm others – for my “good”? 

Was the AD 27 mustard seed, the seed of self-interest – the same seed which, in all men and women, is the cause of all hurt in our world?

‘Everyone flatters himself and carries a kingdom in his breast.’ (John Calvin, French pastor, 1509-1564)
What about the AD 30 “faith like a grain of mustard seed”? It seems to represent a tiny amount of faith. What would a tiny amount of faith actually achieve if one of the top Christians (apostles) had it? Jesus told them that with such a tiny amount of the faith they were seeking “you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

The mulberry tree grows to about 20 metres. It is very common in the Middle East – in Israel too. Birds of the air undoubtedly nest in them. Did the apostles have mulberry trees in their own gardens? Jesus said, “this mulberry tree”.

Do top Christians today have mulberry trees which they should uproot and cast into the sea? Do any non-top Christians grow these? Richard Syvret pleads for this tiny, tiny faith which will enable him to uproot his and plant it in the sea – precisely where it deserves to be.

What about the next bit in bold above? For me it confirms the problem in me. I want to be served, not to serve.

Richard Syvret

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