The Faith of an Ousider

Text: Luke 7:9
When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’ (NRSV)

I think we often forget that the vast majority of us who are now Christians are not from the same religious background as Jesus and his first disciples.  Jesus was a Jew, and the prevailing thought was that God was the God of Israel and the Messiah of God would be the savior of Israel and only Israel.

The text this morning comes from an episode in Jesus’ ministry where a Roman centurion was seeking healing for one of his servants.  A centurion was a military leader who oversaw 100 troops or more.  Therefore, this centurion was a military leader who was responsible for the forced occupation of Israel.  He was not someone on whom one would think the Messiah of God would show compassion.

But we are told that Jesus’ response to the centurion’s words and actions was one of amazement at the faith these words and actions demonstrated.  He exclaimed that he had not seen that level of faith in anyone in Israel. And Jesus had compassion on him and healed his servant as requested.

This story makes me wonder about my attitude toward “outsiders” who are not Christians and what faith they may have that even Christians these days may have trouble mustering.  I wonder what Jesus’ response would be to some of those whom the Christian Church has written off as those on whom Jesus—the Messiah of God—would not have compassion simply because they are not professing Christians.

As one who is called by the virtue of my baptism into the Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus, am I being too picky about with who I share the good news of God’s love through word and action?  Have I subconsciously or, maybe even consciously, decided who Jesus would have compassion on and not even tried to reach out to those who may already have more faith inside of them than many who outwardly call themselves Christians but inwardly do not follow in the footsteps of Jesus?

Pray with me:

God of unconditional love and compassion may I learn to love as you love, and may I learn to show compassion in your name as you show compassion.  Remove the blinders from my eyes that keep me from seeing those we call outsiders as worthy of your love and compassion.  AMEN.

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