We named our daughter Hope. It’s a true name, for many reasons. But it has exposed her to much wordplay around her name. For example, nearly one-third of sermons involve her name (faith and love and grace being strong contenders). But the worst offender may be her dad, who has variously called her hopeful, hope so, hope less (which is a variant of Hope Liz (from Hope Elizabeth)), hope of the world. They are terms of endearment.
Hope married Dan Smith. In my phone are two Dan Smiths, one labeled “Dan Smith, ours” and the other “Dan Smith, other.” Because the two Dan Smiths are friends and in our circle. In fact, “Dan Smith, other” is known as ODS. I supposed that being called Other Dan Smith may be demeaning, but it is a term of endearment, expressed with time most Friday mornings.
When asked to describe myself with three words recently, the third word I chose was “insecure.” Though the other person was surprised, people close to me understand how often I am uncertain about what people will think.
That’s why I’m so grateful that Jesus has a term of endearment for me: oligopistos. It’s a Greek word. It means “little faith”.
If you’ve read the book of Matthew, you’ve seen it, and may have read it as scolding.
“Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Jesus asks his disciples. And then he calmed the sea.
“Why did you doubt, O you of little faith?” Jesus asks Peter, as he keeps him from falling through the water.
“Why are you worried about what you’ll wear, O you of little faith?” Jesus asks the disciples after pointing out the well-dressed wild flowers.
He says this to people he keeps living with, to people he keeps teaching, to people he keeps loving and feeding, to people he forgives, to people he dies for, to people he trusts with his story.
What if Jesus doesn’t say “little faith” with a scowl? What if he says it with a smile, a term of endearment just before he shows amazing love?