13 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” 2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” 5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
I’m discovering that there are tymes in my life when my faith isn’t worth much. I’m not alone in that. For each of us, there are tymes when we discover that our faith just isn’t big enough to wrap around what’s happening in our lives and explain where God is and what God is doing. Sometymes, in the face of new life experiences or new difficulties, we are forced into the realization that our faith isn’t working.
What do you do then?
Some of us cling all the more to our faith. We try to force our complex life into a small faith container, and are surprised when it isn’t good enough.
Sometymes we see our faith can’t hold the realities of our life and so we just give up on our faith.
Sometymes we alter our faith just enough to allow our life to fit into it.
But I think here in the church, we need to be honest—sometymes our faith just isn’t good enough. Sometymes it just doesn’t work. Sometymes it seems like our faith isn’t trustworthy. And sometymes we’re right. Our faith in God is like the stones of the temple in this gospel reading. The bricks and mortar of the temple reveal to faithful people God’s presence. The temple is trustworthy. As long as it’s there, we trust God is near. Isn’t that how our faith works? As long as we have faith, we can trust God is near.
But what happens if the temple is torn down? What happens if our faith isn’t working? How do we know God is near? How do we trust what God may be doing? Like the temple, our faith isn’t the most important thing. It’s not our ability to trust in God that counts—it’s actually God that counts. We can get so caught up on how trustworthy our faith is that we don’t realize how trustworthy God is whether our faith is working for us or not. Our faith isn’t sacred. It is a snapshot of where we are in our relationship with God today. Our faith doesn’t save us, it doesn’t comfort us, it doesn’t love us. God does those things. As God continues to be present in our lives, hopefully our faith will change—sometymes even torn down and start over. That’s often a good thing. Not fun, not easy, but good.
How has your faith changed? What has challenged it? What was the situation that made your realize your faith wasn’t adequate?
- Loss of job or income?
- End of a relationship?
- Inability to answer a friend’s question about God?
Usually, we recognize the inadequacy of our faith in crisis or pain. If your faith seems adequate today, great! Your life has probably been pretty comfortable lately. If your faith seems inadequate and just isn’t really working now, you’re likely in the middle of some significant life changes now. That’s OK. Because wherever it is that our faith fails us, Jesus steps in. He meets us at the very point of worthless faith. If our faith can’t sustain us, Jesus can. Our faith doesn’t conquer death, Jesus does. Our faith isn’t divine, Jesus is. Our faith doesn’t hold us and comfort us and love us, Jesus does.
So if your faith is not enough for you, if it’s failing you, if it cannot provide what you need in your life, good. Quit relying on it. Jesus is there. And regardless of your faith, Jesus is sustaining you and holding you and loving you and walking with you. Especially if you doubt it. Especially if you don’t have the energy to trust him. Especially if you don’t believe it. Especially if your faith just isn’t worth much today.
In this gospel text, Jesus goes on to warn the disciples not to get all caught up in signs of the destruction of the temple. Don’t get all excited about wars and earthquakes. Don’t be distracted by people claiming to have truth. How easy it is to focus on that stuff! Because the temptation is to see those things, hear those things, experience those things and trust in those things. But they cannot sustain us any more than our faith can. They cannot provide comfort, love, forgiveness, or life. At their absolute best, the most they can do is remind us that God is actually near, that Jesus actually loves us, that the Holy Spirit is still at work in our lives.
Even if you pay attention to signs and wonders, exciting philosophies and thoughts, new discoveries and ancient wisdoms, that doesn’t change who Jesus is or how he walks with you. Even if your faith evolves and changes, is renewed and refreshed, is torn down and built up anew, that doesn’t affect how much God loves you. Whether your faith today is worthwhile or worthless, whether you trust the God you know or cannot do so today, Jesus is still with you. There is a God who loves you. There is a Lord who will not abandon you. There is a Savior who walks with you when your faith works and especially when it doesn’t.
If you can’t believe that today, don’t worry about it; that’s OK. There are others here who can continue to remind you of God’s grace and love. They can love you with God’s love, walk alongside you with God’s presence, they can trust God’s mercy for you.