I was recently reminded of my own follies by this verse:
Luke 17:6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
We like to look around, and pat ourselves on the back for being faithful church members in these days of wickedness. Reading the old testament one wants to roll ones eyes at the Israelite’s constant disobedience and rebellion. I wonder if when members are so righteous that Satan is bound the saints of that day won’t read of our day and roll their eyes in the same way concerning us, much like the way we may look at the old testament Israelites. Christ was always pointing out even to his disciples that they were simply thinking on the wrong level altogether.
Luke 8: 24 And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.
25 And he said unto them, Where is your faith?
Do we think we would have done better than those Jesus chose to become his apostles in that setting? Not at all. These men stood by him in every circumstance, but he was pointing to a higher place and saying “you aren’t there yet”.
Matthew 14:28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Would we have done better than Peter? No. Not at all. Christ isn’t reproving his disciples for not being as good as we are now, he was pointing to a level far, far above where you and I both sit and saying to his disciples “why aren’t you up there?” Certainly, for the rest of us, the costs of our disobedience and lack of faith concerns and distresses that God who loves us not one bit less.
3 Nephi 17:14 And it came to pass that when they had knelt upon the ground, Jesus groaned within himself, and said: Father, I am troubled because of the wickedness of the people of the house of Israel.
So it is great to have scriptures that say something like:
Alma 12:10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
These allow us to measure ourselves against God’s standard instead of simply comparing ourselves to our neighbors. Just as the disciples in Christ’s day, Christ challenges us too with his higher standard of where he wants us, rather than where we are want to be. These scriptures challenge us no less than Christ’s words challenged his disciples.
So how are we doing? Well, in my opinion, there isn’t much of the sort of faith in the church yet that would allow one to say to a sycamine tree “Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea” and it would obey. I know I am nowhere near there. But I am grateful that God points to those examples, as he did to his disciples, and says to me and to all of us “No, THAT is where I want you. Not where you are.”