A Mustard Seed
On the last day of June, we welcomed to the benefice the inspiring speaker Michael Harvey, who is the director and chief executive of an organisation called the National Weekend of invitation.
All those who attended found the day worthwhile and helpful. I have been reflecting a lot since that day on some of the things that Michael shared with us. One thing that has particularly stayed with me is his reminder to us that God asks us to be faithful not successful.
We live in a culture where success is valued and honoured, and there is nothing wrong with that. As I write, England are between their quarter-final and semi-final football World Cup matches, and the nation has united around them wanting them to succeed, even folk like me who are only footie fans when there’s something like a World Cup or Euro competition to be won. A sense of achievement makes us feel good about ourselves.
But the downside of a success culture is that those who don’t succeed can feel unvalued and hopeless. Some children will always struggle with exams, others will fail at sporting activities. I still bear the scars of always being the last to be picked for teams in netball lessons when the teacher allocated two other girls to be team captains. The same three of us were always left to the end because we were pretty incompetent netballers. It didn’t make us feel good. It never does when people assess each other according to ability or success for those without it.
Which is why I was so encouraged by Michael’s reminder that God looks not for success but for faithfulness. There’s no such thing as a perfect Christian, no exam to pass or cup to win. What matters in God’s eyes is that we know we are loved.
Nothing we can do, no test we can take, will get us into heaven. That relies on faith and love. The amount of faith doesn’t need to be big – Jesus used the image of a tiny mustard seed to make the point that even a small amount is enough, because God can transform that into something much greater.
I find it enormously hopeful that all God asks of us is that we allow God to love us. When we experience love, we learn to trust, just like any child. That is how faithfulness grows. The capacity for faith is a gift from God, and like the mustard seed, if we allow it to grow roots into our lives, God will bring something greater from it. But it may not look like success as we know it!
With best wishes Sarah