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What happens when we make "faith" a verb?

Faith moves us into action
Faith moves us into action

In this article:

  • Why do we ask for more faith?
  • Examples of moving in faith
  • Doing faith

In Luke 17, Jesus lays out some heavy teaching and he ends the lesson with, “Even if someone sins against you seven times in one day and return to you seven times and says, ‘I am changing my ways,’ you must forgive that person.”

Flabbergasted at this teaching, the disciples pleaded with Jesus, “Increase our faith!”

Has there been a time where you wished you simply had more faith? Or a time when someone simply told you, “Have more faith?”

It’s a very, well, American response. Seemingly, the solution to many of our problems is more. More money. More fame. More clout. More time. More faith.

But what does more faith even look like?

I really disliked it when people told me all I needed was more faith. How do I muster “more” faith? Do I just squeeze my eyes, hands, and everything else tighter and just… and press out more faith? Sure, I prayed more, but it never helped me feel like I had more faith.

Then those same people would quote the next part of Luke’s story, “If you had the faith the size of a mustard seed…” sort of implying that I never even had that to begin with.

Don’t you find it funny that as the disciples asked Jesus for more faith, Jesus basically denied their request?

Asking for more faith

Why do you think Jesus denied their request?

I guess we have to ask what it means when we ask for more faith (or when we tell someone to have more faith).

I think a lot of times, my request for more faith was just to relieve existential and theological anxiety: “Geez God, just throw me a bone. Prove to me you’re real so that it becomes impossible to doubt you. Just once. It’ll only take one undeniable proof to have me never doubt you again!”

The rest of the time, my request comes out of a deep desire for some kind of supernatural ability. Or, really… if I’m completely honest, the ability to control God and get God to do what I want God to do.

Years ago, the United Methodist Church launched a media campaign called Rethink Church, essentially asking “What if church wasn’t a noun but a verb?” Maybe we should launch a Rethink Faith campaign and ask, “what if faith isn’t a noun but a verb?” Basically, what if faith isn’t something we have but something that we do?

I feel that when Jesus said, if you had faith the size of a mustard seed he implied that we already have all the faith that we need.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to faith. There’s no specific prayer to obtain more faith. There’s no formula to make you a more faithful Christian. Because faith isn’t quantifiable.

You already have Jesus, what more do you need?

Abraham and more faith

What made Abraham the example of faith? For me, it comes in two words from Genesis 12:4: Abram left. In the story, God told Abram to leave everything he had known behind and trust in God. And Abram left.

He didn’t sit and pray about it; he didn’t ask to double his portion of faith; he didn’t seek out some Bible verse to ponder God’s words — he trusted God and left.


So, for me what faithfulness looks like today is inspired by Abram/Abraham: to do  faith.


To do the loving I’m called to do.

To do the forgiving that Jesus invited us to do.

To do the small things that may seem inconsequential, or even beneath me, with great love.

Because, that’s what I’m essentially called to do.

Knowing all the Bible verses and saying all the prayers are good things. We really should continue to practice reading the Bible and praying. But that’s not the be all end all of faith. The command to “love God” is accompanied by one to love neighbors. We pray and we act.

Faith isn’t always meant to shock and awe others. Faith is simply being aware and acknowledge God’s presence around us at all times and understanding that we’re invited to partner with God in the work of ushering God’s kingdom closer and closer.

So be faithful by stepping out. Trust that God’s spirit is with you and “go and do”:

Do the loving.
Do the helping.
Do the caring.

Do the forgiving.

Treat faith more like a verb than a noun. 

Joseph Yoo is the author When the Saints Go Flying in. He is a West Coaster at heart contently living in Houston, Texas with his wife and son. He serves at Mosaic Church in Houston. Find more of his writing at


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