With the year 2014 coming down to a close, one of my prayers to God for 2015 is to be a more faith-filled person. I want to have an increased faith just like what the apostles asked of Jesus: The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” Luke 17:5. That’s the same prayer I have entering 2015!
In the gospel of Matthew there’s an account of a person who stood out to Jesus because of the kind of faith that he had. The faith of this person caught Jesus’ attention so much that he even said that he had not found such a faith as his in the whole of Israel. The person I’m talking about is the centurion who had an encounter with Jesus. You may read the account of the centurion in one of the gospels:
When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.
As I read about the story of the centurion, I tried to understand what made his faith so special. What kind of faith could a man have such that it will impress even Jesus himself and stand out amongst the crowd? Is this a kind of faith that believes for great, mighty and impossible things? Is this the kind of faith that will dare to do just about anything because of courage, guts and relentlessness? What made his faith so special?
As I read the story of the centurion again and again, the qualities I mentioned above weren’t really the things that stood out from that man’s faith. The centurion’s faith isn’t the faith that I’d expect from someone who would have such great and amazing faith. His was different from what the world and even most Christians describe as a faith that is so great. I thought to myself, what could have been so distinct about this man’s faith that would cause Jesus to give such high praises for him. I tried my best to understand what was it from his story that stood out. Following are the things that I observed from the centurion’s life and why he was dubbed as someone of great faith:
1) The centurion had an attitude of humility, he knew his place before God.
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof
The centurion tells Jesus here that he isn’t worthy to have the Lord of creation come to his house and meet with him face to face. At first we may think that we’ve got a pretty insecure fellow here who got starstruck because he’s able to have a conversation with Jesus face-to-face. Not quite the man we normally thought would be a person identified with great faith. However, for me, I think that the centurion didn’t say those words just because he was insecure or starstruck when he saw Jesus. I think that he said those things because he knew exactly who he was in the light of the presence of the Lord of creation.
The truth is we are really undeserving people of the riches of God’s mercy and grace. Lest at any point we become entitled to anything in this lifetime we should stop for a while and think again. The centurion knew his place, he knew who he really was in front of a Holy God. Time and time again the Bible tells us that the truth is we are nothing but dust and ashes. It takes GREAT FAITH to be able to see that and not be blinded by what we see with our position, achievement and status in life. GREAT FAITH is grounded in humility.
2) The centurion recognized God’s POWER
“…but only say the word, and my servant will be healed...”
The centurion had so much trust in God’s power to be able to heal the servant. He had GREAT FAITH because of his level of trust in God. He knew that the moment Jesus would speak a promise, its fruition would immediately come to pass.
3) The centurion recognized God’s AUTHORITY
“…For I too am a man under authority,…”
The centurion also respected and honored Jesus’ authority. While many of his contemporaries like the pharisees disrespected Jesus’ authority, the centurion had GREAT FAITH to see who Christ really was. To many people during Jesus’ time, he was just an ordinary man, blasphemous, a carpenter, a nobody. However, the centurion went and saw beyond the physical. He knew and recognized Jesus’ authority over all life and creation. It takes GREAT FAITH to be able to do that.
The centurion modelled what GREAT FAITH is really all about. Like what I said earlier, the characteristics of the centurion above may not be what we have imagined GREAT FAITH to be; however the account of the centurion shows us what Jesus thinks great faith is.
Faith according to A.W. Tozer
I think A.W. Tozer explains what faith really is all about in his book “The Pursuit of God”. Here, he gives us a working definition of what faith is all about. He said that Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God. After reading this book, my mindset on faith totally change. It hit me that faith is ALL about God and NEVER about the “strength” of the faith of a person. Great Faith has nothing to do with abilities of a person but the more about the object of our faith. A.W. Tozer adds these other nuggets of wisdom about what faith is all about:
“Faith is the least self-regarding of the virtues. It is by its very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves—blessed riddance.”
“Faith is not in itself a meritorious act; the merit is in the One toward Whom it is directed. Faith is a redirecting of our sight, a getting out of the focus of our own vision and getting God into focus. Sin has twisted our vision inward and made it self-regarding. Unbelief has put self where God should be,…Faith looks out instead of in and the whole life falls into line.”
Those words from Tozer hit me hard. Faith is never about the act, it’s never about what I can do, never about how talented or strong I am. Great Faith is all about seeing less and less of me and more and more of God. Great Faith is never about us, it’s all about God. My hope and prayer that this insight helped you as you continue to grow in your relationship with God. Remember, faith is important and essential in our Christian walk. We must continue to grow in it but again we it should be clear what great faith looks like lest we go pursue after the wrong definition of it.
God bless! 🙂
Oh and did you notice that the centurion wasn’t even named in this story? Nobody knows his name, background, clan or lineage. All that we know is that he was someone who had one of the greatest faith Israel. Great Faith doesn’t need to be known by other people it’s primarily between us and God.
Praying for faith to continually arise in all of us. 🙂