Jesus then spent some time telling us that good fruit cannot come from a bad tree and bad fruit cannot come from a good tree. I think he has a pretty good idea of how much we as people like to judge things and how much that judging skews toward the negative.
And, of course, for us, the negative usually means those other people are “anti-God”. After all, we are Pro-God.
And into this we find the story of the Centurion. I think it’s amazing that I went 30 some odd years without ever realizing that Jesus and the Centurion never actually met. He sent his servants to Christ.
Really gives some heft to John’s words, “Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’”
It seems obvious that the Centurion knew about Jesus. He knew what he was doing–> miracles, healings, teachings. Not unusual to know and he wasn’t the only one to have heard this things.
Yet it appears that this Roman, this member of the Empire who was tasked with keeping the people in their place understood “who” Jesus was in a way that no one else did.
Surely the Centurion would have been considered a “bad” tree. How can anything good come from that tree? And weren’t those walking with Christ all good trees?
Before this, Jesus was talking about judging. How would those have judged the Centurion? Surely nothing true can come from this oppressor?
And yet, All truth is God’s truth.
Do we tell people in our churches that our little church or our denomination or our particular way of interpreting theology is not just the truth but the only truth? And that no truth can exist outside that box?
It’s a big reason why we lose so many youth when they leave high school.
It’s a big reason I left the church. We don’t do a very good job of teaching disciples to look for God in the world. We seem to spend so much more time teaching them that if they encounter something “other”, it can’t be true.
Jesus had a set of beliefs. Jesus knew about truth. Unfortunately, all too often we put our opinions and preferences over the top of those truths and defend them as if they were actual Gospel words.
Any dissenting view must be quashed because, of course, it’s then anti-Jesus.
We do this a lot when we label things “Christian”.
What if I hate your Christian music because it sounds awful?
What if I think your Christian art is tacky and lame?
What if I don’t agree with your Christian political party?
What does that make me? Anti-Christ? I think that’s how we tend to treat people.
I agree with the writer who wrote that for the most part Christian is a great noun but a terrible adjective.
I have to constantly ask myself if all my faith is in Christ, allowing me to accept truth where I find it and attribute it to God.
And not all the knowledge of Christ, just faith.
Faith in God has never required the most information about God.
That Centurion didn’t know all information about God but luckily for him, his faith was wholly based in Christ.
So what if we find that at this particular moment we don’t have the amazing faith of the Centurion? Are we just outta luck?
I am very grateful that the Gospel writers were wise.
The very next story is one of Jesus bringing someone back to life too. But here we see no one asking for Jesus’ help.
No falling down at his feet.
No sending of servants.
No bitter wailing and crying out to God.
No evidence of “faith” at all.
In fact, after Christ did it, it scared the tar out of them.
That was enough for right then.
But I never want to stop learning from the Centurion and his faith. I always want to keep asking if my faith is whole or is it parceled out in different places.
I hope there aren’t places in this world where I refuse to see truth simply because I think I know better.