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Practicing Faith

We are often so much like Jesus’ first disciples in the early days.

They followed Jesus around, from place to place, listening to his teaching, seeing what he was doing, and doing their best to understand. And we, like them, it seems, often don’t.

If only we had more faith.

That’s what the disciples said to Jesus, “O Lord, increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).

Somehow, they seem to think, we’re just not getting it. But if you can make us more faithful, we’re sure we can be the godly people you want us to be. Just make us more faithful.

You can just imagine Jesus slapping his palm to his forehead and sighing.

I don’t make you faithful, he says, you make you faithful. There is faith in you already, like a little seed, but it is only grown by living it out. You can learn much, you can perform rituals and follow laws, but it’s only when you live them out in your daily lives that you truly practice your faith. And that practice grows faith. (Luke 17:5-10)

I play the piano a bit now and then. Even if I don’t play for awhile, I remember the mechanics I learned (some of them, anyway) and how to read the notes on the page, but that’s not music. Music happens when all the mechanics and reading happen automatically, almost without having to think about it, because I’ve used them often enough. Music happens when you can step away from the techniques and skills and focus on the creation and experience of something more: the music. And that only comes with practice.

We can go to church and bible study, learn and perform our rituals, just like the disciples, but faith is truly only lived when it becomes part of our daily living, like the air we breathe, the water we drink and the bread we eat. Faith is not a complex power that must be acquired, but rather a simple gift that must be put into action.

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