"If you have faith as small as a mustard seed ..." (Luke 17:6)

"If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." (Luke 17:6)

Is this about becoming powerful?

Many have quoted this statement and misinterpreted it as Jesus suggesting that people use God to achieve their goals of becoming powerful.

Is this what Jesus wanted his followers to do? Become superman or superwoman? Did he want them to become focused on doing miracles that amaze everyone? It would be easy for those who desire this to focus upon the single phrase within Jesus' statement - "it will obey you."

To have the world obey us - this is akin to becoming king or master of all we survey. Is this what Jesus is talking about?

Some of us are enchanted by the promise of having trees or mountains - as described from his statements elsewhere. Some of these appear to be the same teaching with slightly different wording:
“Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20)
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done." (Matt. 21:21)
“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them." (Mark 11:23)
Certainly, those who want to move mountains or have trees obey them will be drawn by these statements.

Wanting others and things to obey us is, in fact, our disease. This is what landed us in this physical world - to learn how to love.

What does 'having faith' mean?

One might think this is simply believing that God exists. Some institutions teach it simply means believing that Jesus exists.

Yet neither of these are what Jesus is speaking of when he says "faith." Most everyone around Jesus at the time believed in God's existence, and certainly, they all believed in Jesus' existence because he was standing in front of them.

In fact, the word "faith" here is being translated from the Greek word πίστις (pistis). This means, according to Thayer's lexicon, "belief with the predominate idea of trust or confidence."

So having faith doesn't mean just believing in the existence of God. It means to rely upon God. It means to put oneself in the hands of God. It means to completely depend upon God. This is the faith that Jesus is discussing.

So having this type of faith is quite the opposite of wanting to move a mountain or a tree - or have anything or anyone else obey us. It is about completely relying upon the Supreme Being. And it is about doing what pleases God.

This results in precisely the opposite consciousness of wanting others to obey us. It means to be obeying the Supreme Being and trusting in Him completely. It means forgetting about what others think of us or how we can prove our self-worth to others by doing something great.

When we are trusting in Him and obeying the Supreme Being by doing what pleases Him - things will automatically happen that will appear to be fantastic to others. But they won't seem fantastic to us. Because we know God will be doing those things - not us.

How do we lose faith?

Those of us who have little or no faith in the Supreme Being have lost our faith. How did that happen?

We lost our faith because at some point we decided we wanted to be the center of the universe. And that conflicts with the reality that the Supreme Being is the center and everyone loves Him.

So we decided that there was no room in our hearts for God, because our hearts had become self-centered. We wanted everyone to love us. We wanted to be king. We wanted everyone to obey us.

So God gave us a place where we could pretend to be the center of the universe. That is the physical world where we live now.

This is what the symbolism of Adam and Eve and the fruit of the tree was all about. The 'fruit' that God didn't want us to eat is the 'fruit' of self-centeredness. The 'fruit' is that we are the center and everyone and everything revolves around us - the fruit of wanting to be like God. Here is how the 'snake' described it:
"For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:5)
To "be like God" means to become self-centered and believe that everything revolves around me. You see, in our pure state, we are God's servants and caregivers. In our pure state, we see ourselves as we are - as revolving around God. In our pure state, we love the Supreme Being who is our Best Friend and Eternal Companion.

But because love always requires freedom of choice (without it, there could be no real love), we are given the choice to love God or not to love God. This is why it is described in Genesis that in Eden there were two trees in the middle of the garden:
In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)
Thus we find two trees in the center of the Garden of Eden (the spiritual realm): What are these? The "tree of life" represents love for the Supreme Being. This is what gives life to God's children. The other - "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" - represents our choice to become self-centered.

Once we fall out of love with God by becoming self-centered - we now must face the consequences of our self-centeredness.

This is why, as soon as they ate the fruit, Adam and Eve were suddenly self-conscious about being naked: They immediately became self-centered. After all, unless one is self-centered, one cannot become self-conscious.

Why did they suddenly feel naked?

They were pure, but as soon as they ate the fruit of self-centeredness, they needed to cover up their nakedness. Consider this carefully: Due to their becoming self-centered, their purity (symbolized by nakedness) became a problem. They had to cover up.

And how did they cover themselves? According to the Book of Genesis:
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
What are the "garments of skin"? The "garments of skin" are most certainly our physical bodies. Are our physical bodies not garments of skin?

They are "garments" because they cover us - the spirit-person. And they are "skin" because our bodies are most certainly are covered in skin.

Yes, our physical bodies cover the pureness of our spirit-person within. By giving us these physical bodies, we are thus tossed out of the spiritual realm and immersed in the physical world. It might be compared to an astronaut who puts on a spacesuit in order to enter outer space.

This is also confirmed in Genesis:
And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever. So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. (Genesis 3:22-23)
This last sentence has been slightly mistranslated - as has been much of the text in the Book of Genesis. What is being communicated is that God banished us from the spiritual realm by giving us physical bodies - made of the elements of the physical world - and thus we must now struggle within the physical world in these physical bodies.

The point is, this is why we are each here in the physical world. It is not as if Adam and Eve made a mistake ("original sin") and now we all have to pay for the choice they made. This is the presumption of those teachers who don't want to admit that each of us is responsible for the choices we make and have made. Adam and Eve merely symbolize the choice each of us wearing a physical body has made.

Each of us made the choice not to love God at some point. Each of us made the choice to 'eat the fruit' of self-centeredness. And this is why we are here: Because we wanted to forget God and enjoy ourselves. We wanted to be like God.

In the physical realm, this translates to each of us struggling to gain control. Here we struggle to become number one - at least in something. We fight each other for property (that God ultimately owns) and we fight each other for wealth, fame, and control.

Yet no one wins this fight for control. We all lose. Billions of people are fighting each other for property, fame, wealth, and control - yet no one wins.

Can we ever gain control?

Even those who gain the position of king or president or Olympic champion or famous movie star or rock star will lose those positions. We will lose whatever position we gain as soon as someone else knocks us off the podium.

Or when we leave these bodies behind at the time of death.

And every one of us will leave this body behind at some point. When that happens whatever position, riches, fame, family or reputation we may have made at that point will be taken from us all at once. It will vanish from our grasp as our spirit-person leaves behind the temporary physical body.

This, in fact, is what Jesus spoke about when he discussed the supposed "end of the world." (Such as: "So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just -" (Matt. 13:49 KJV))

The Greek word αἰών (aiōn) has been translated to "world" or in some Biblical versions, to "age." Yet this word means, according to the lexicon, "a period of time." What "period of time" is Jesus speaking of? Jesus is speaking of the end of the lifetime of this physical body according to the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
"Thus it also shall be at the end of this lifetime: The angels will appear and divide the wicked from the devoted –" (Matt. 13:49)
Yes, the end of the lifetime of this body will be a day of reckoning for each of us. This is the point where we each leave ("rise from") our physical body. This is "judgment day" - because this is when our lives will be judged, and we will head to our next destination.

So why does Jesus make this above statement about moving the tree - or the mountain? What point is he trying to make with regard to having faith?

First, this statement is being made specifically to Jesus' disciples. These are those who are being sent out by Jesus to teach to others and heal others just as Jesus had:
"As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
So Jesus wants them to also be able to be a vehicle for God's will. This is in fact how Jesus was healing others - by his reliance upon the Supreme Being:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
"The One who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29)
Thus we find that the power that Jesus displayed - with regard to healing others and casting out demons and so forth - was a display of God's power. Jesus was a medium for that power.

And how does one become a medium for God's power? Just as Jesus is instructing here - by becoming completely dependent upon God - by devoting oneself to God.