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  • Writer's pictureMyles Hester

Reasonable Faith

When the world talks about faith, it refers to faith as something that is diametrically opposed to reason. I had a professor in college who was talking about “faith versus reason” as if she was talking about “black versus white” or “light versus darkness.” I tried my best to push back on this false dichotomy respectfully. I explained that as a believer, while I do of course have faith, there is logic behind my faith. The faith and reason of a Christian are not mutually exclusive, but rather mutually inform each other. How does a jury arrive at a conviction in a murder trial? They look at the evidence, weigh the facts, and use their best judgment. It is rare that there is video footage or photographs of the person committing the crime, but the evidence leads to an unavoidable conclusion. In a sense, though, you could say that there is always some sort of gap between the evidence and the empirical knowledge of what happened. There will always be questions unanswered. This, for any person, no matter their background or worldview, is where the universal concept of faith comes into play.

 

It is key for the Christian to understand this important aspect of faith, because it safeguards against the claims of the masses that there is something inherently archaic and naïve about belief in God, religion, or faith in general. To see this type of belief in action, we can look to the Centurion that has an eye-opening interaction with Jesus in Matthew 8.

 

For context, a centurion was a man in the Roman army who was over 100 men. The Roman empire was brutal in many ways, and being an officer in their military would have been a tough job. However, his position within the Roman military leads to his amazing insight into Jesus’ power as the Son of God.

 

The issue at hand in this passage is that the Centurion has a servant who is severely sick. The Centurion is evidently well aware of who Jesus is and the signs he had done. The Centurion has built his faith in Jesus on the premise of things that he would have seen and heard and believed. He had weighed the evidence he had been presented with up to that point, and while we are not exactly sure what conclusions he had come to at this point about who Jesus was, we know he had a firm belief in Jesus’ power to heal his servant. He also had the utmost respect for Jesus as an authority figure, which is quite the compliment when a Roman military officer is talking to a Jewish carpenter’s Son. After asking that Jesus heal his servant, Jesus tells the Centurion, “I will come and heal him,” but the Centurion has a surprising response to Jesus’ offer to come to the man’s house! He responds, “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” (Matthew 8:7-9).

 

What is truly remarkable about this response is the fact that, to put it simply, the Centurion gets it! He understands faith, not because he explains what faith is in grand theological terms, but he demonstrates it in a clear, direct, and profound way. He knew what true authority looked like, not only because he was over others, but because he had others over him! We all have people in our lives we have to listen to, and depending on who we are, where we work, etc., there are always different power dynamics at play. In the Roman military, it would have been very clear who was over the Centurion and who was under him. Any violation of this hierarchy would be considered insubordination and would be dealt with harshly. By his understanding of what Jesus was capable of, it was clear to the Centurion that Jesus had more authority and power than he did. By his request of Jesus to heal his servant, we see that the Centurion had reasonably concluded that Jesus was able to heal the sick servant. His request itself is an outpouring or demonstration of that faith, and for that, Jesus “marvels” and praises the man.

 

Jesus turns and says to the crowd around the Centurion, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” He then turns back to the Centurion himself and says, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed. And the servant was healed at that very moment” (Matthew 8:10, 13).

 

In the end, you could rightly say that the Centurion believed “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Jesus would be able to heal his servant. He knew what power looked like, and he did not necessarily need to see it demonstrated to know it was there. God has intrinsic authority for many reasons, one of which being what He is capable of, even when we do not see that demonstrated. The Centurion knew this, and we must remember it as well. The Centurion looked at the power Jesus had and the healing his servant needed and made the only logical conclusion there was: Jesus is the Only One who can heal my servant. When we study the life of Christ, may we look at the evidence of His character, His teaching, His miracles, and His authority, and draw the only rational conclusion there is: He is the Son of God. He has power to heal, save, and resurrect. That type of power is worth listening to and being faithful to.

 

God is faithful, and we know that for a fact. We have insurmountable evidence, just like the Centurion did. We can rationally have faith in God “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If He is faithful, then we should be to.

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