Luke gave a great insight to what faith is supposed to look like in his gospel. Luke was great at creating contrast between people and groups. He contrasted human emotions many times which help to reveal character someone either in a positive or negative light to those who read his account. With this in mind, I want to share a thought, or two, about the faith that Christians should have.
Here is a definition of faith, Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Many times Christians use this verse as a biblical promise to be healed from a disease or something tragic. But what if I use the word faith to describe someone who is devout? You know, someone who gets it. If I can use this word in that manner, then I am free to look at the context of a passage that uses the same word. I’m gonna do it just for kicks.
In Luke 7:1-10, though we should look at the passages before and after, there is a snapshot of the word faith being used by Jesus about a centurion. In this passage, Jesus heals the centurion’s servant. Luke contrasted some people in this passage. By the way, this passage comes after Luke’s Sermon on the Mount. Jesus dealt with judging others in that passage.
Here are some contrasts in these 10 verses to look at from Luke himself. The Centurion cares about his servant. The Jews care about the Centurion, who has authority and who loved the Jewish nation and built their synagogue. The Centurion had been good; at least a good tither. Israel was a nation of priests devoted to God and had The 10 Commandments and Law. The Gentiles, as depicted with the centurion who was considered to be unclean as a Gentile. The rich and the poor. The rich elders who cared about their nation and building and the man who had money, because they judged that he “deserved” for his servant to be healed. The servant, who only had 2 people worried about him, Jesus and the centurion. People with pride and those who are humble. I might be missing some other things to look at but you get the picture. And, all of this was taking place before a fickle crowd.
The Jews were supposed to care about the widows and the orphans, the poor, and the alien. It was written throughout the Law to them. In the way of this type of love, they were to be distinct from the world. They did not do well with this. Yet, the centurion cared about his servant. Most of the time we Christians just want to talk about the centurion’s faith because healing took place on account of his faith. The problem with this is that we have it backwards, we look for the miracle because we want to see someone who is important to us to be healed. All the while Jesus is looking at us to see if we have the faith of the centurion.
Simply, the faith of the centurion was the picture of someone who got it. The elders did not get it according to Luke. There care was for the money man. Maybe they thought, “Hope Jesus can do this so that the centurion will continue to be good to us; otherwise he may give up on our God.” Of course we know that if he gave up on God, that would mean that the money would stop. Therefore, they did not get it. The very Law they taught was not within their hearts. Too many Christians today focus on the same things that the elders did. Respectable people who can help the church. Heaven forgive us!
The Centurion, who ironically I assume learned the Law from the Jews, cared for the poor much. He lived out what he heard. He cared about the same thing that Jesus did, the poor. If only, elders in churches today would focus on the same things that Christ is focused on. I believe people would see a dramatic move of God instead a manufactured move of social justice. The centurion was humble, he was not bragging about his authority, because was under authority. He simply recognized Christ as the Authority in contrast with the elders. All the while the crowd is watching.
So if you were in the crowd watching Christ, and you heard Him say that He has “not found such great faith even in Israel,” how would you respond? Would you say to yourself that Jesus’ point was that we should try real hard to believe so that by faith people could be healed? Or, do you think that He meant that the Jews, who were supposed to know God, were not living their faith out in regard to love for others? I think Jesus would say this to the Church today.
In my view, Jesus pointed out plainly that the centurion was living by the Law. His heart was different from the Jews. This meant that the centurion would enter Heaven before the elders and the Jews. Shocking! Because we Christians teach about believing God for our healing from this passage instead of teaching about the humility and love that God desires from us.
Does your relationship with Christ resemble the elders or the centurion? What does your heart care about? The nation and the church building, or those who are “the least of these?” Christians, it is time to stop placing hope in politics, money, and people. It is time to quit associating with Jesus because He has power. Instead, it is time to allow Him to live through us because He loves us. And if He lives through us, this means that we will care more about those in need than building facilities. So what is faith to you?