“Increase our faith” – That’s the request that opens this week’s reading from the Gospel of Luke 17:5-10 (click here).  It’s a request most of us, and I would wager all of us if we’re being honest, can relate to.  Maybe we ask for it before heading into surgery.  Maybe it’s before we begin the job interview that we hope would change our lives.  Maybe it’s when our relationship with a loved one or partner seems to be fraying under the stresses of life.  Chances are, we’ve all been in the disciples shoes and pleaded:  increase our faith!

Got milkA few years ago the dairy industry came up with a really clever advertisement that pictured a question in big white letters on a black background.  The ad asked, “Got Milk?”  It was a wild success precisely because it reminded people of the benefits associated with a diet rich in calcium and other nutrients that milk and diary products provide.  Perhaps the more effective part of the message though, was it’s corollary – if you don’t have milk…

 

Got_Faith_Front_medium.pngA number of years ago, some faithful folk co-opted that slogan and plastered it on a t-shirt now pretty famous in Christian circles.  In the same style, it asked: “Got Faith?”  It was a wild success precisely because it reminded people of the “benefits” associated with having a lifestyle rich in “faith” that “church” can provide.  Maybe its corollary was also as effective in terms of making an impression in the minds of the public consciousness – if you don’t have faith…

I’ve always found it ironic that we treat faith the same way as the dairy industry treats milk.  As if faith is something you can buy at the grocery on your way home from church (and yes, I know you go to Sobey’s after church because I meet half the congregation in the aisle when I’m there too!)  So this Sunday, when you’re running through the list, make sure you remember to pick up the faith.

Seriously though, what is faith exactly, and how do we show that we “have” it?

The disciples ask for it to “increase”, implying that faith is something we can lose, or multiply.  We might want to be careful here – is faith a commodity?  It’s often treated as such.  If I just read the correct version of the bible, say the right prayers, believe the right theology, go to the best church…I’ll increase my faith.  The corresponding assumption is that the benefit of faith is a kind of righteousness that puts you “in” with God while others remain lost, and on the “outs” with the almighty.