Much is made of the faith of the Roman centurion, who sent for Jesus to heal one who was sick in his household. A small scene ensues, and then, the centurion confesses that he knows that Jesus could just say a word and heal from right then, right there, for he is a commander of many forces himself and knows how the chain of command works.
Yet he sent for Jesus anyway.
It's quite the opposite of what you and I are prone to do, isn't it? We are a people who are okay with Jesus pulling the strings of our lives; we know He can do it from...well, from wherever He is. We know He can speak the word, and often does, and things happen or don't happen, just as He ordains them to. We're certain we can pray, and He can speak back, and life will change.
We needn't bother with all of that "presence" stuff. All of that "Come, Lord" stuff. We don't need Jesus to bother to actually be here with us. Just, you know, say the word.
And not like the centurion. It's not because we feel unworthy. It's not because we are humbled in His presence and feel so small and insignificant that He shouldn't "bother" with us. It's because we don't want to be bothered by Him. We don't want Jesus to actually be present in our lives. We don't want Him to think that He can just come in and start to be part of stuff.
We only want Him when we want Him, so we pretend that we are just deferring to His power to speak a word when really, we are hiding from His love.
Read that again: we pretend that we are deferring to His power when really, we are hiding from His love.
Because love is messy, even the kind of perfect love that Jesus has for us. It's hard. It's not nice and neat and clean. It's complicated and strange and difficult. It's the kind of thing that has to have a give and take, and really, we've become a bunch of religious takers. We don't want to give, so we don't put ourselves in a place to give.
But that makes what we receive so much less than all that God has promised us.
Now, it's different if, like the centurion, we don't need Jesus to come all this way for us to believe. The centurion had a real, bold faith that understood presence, and willing presence, but didn't require it. That's not the same as what we're dealing with.
See, we cut presence out first. We didn't stop needing Jesus to be present; we stopped wanting Him to be present. And then we shaped Him in our image and made Him just the sort of God that we wanted Him to be, so that the Jesus that we believe in - the one who hasn't come all this way for us - isn't the Jesus who came and revealed Himself to us. He's something much less. Because we don't have the faith of the centurion who sends for Jesus, knowing His compassionate power; we have the faith of the comfortable Christian who keeps Jesus outside of our bubble, knowing so little about Him.
What would our lives look like if we were a people who sent for Jesus anyway? Whose first words were, "Come, Lord" instead of "Jesus, I just need You to..."? What would our faith look like if we asked Him into our homes, into our brokennesses...not just His power, but His compassion and His love?
What if we stopped hiding behind our "faith" and started living boldly out of it?