When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
Matthew 8 : 10 – 13
The audience would have been shocked at what Jesus said. The Centurion was a foreign pagan, not to mention a high ranking officer in the occupying army, and yet Jesus said he had such a great faith that he would be included as one of God’s people, with Abraham Isaac and Jacob. For people at the time this would have been a scandalous suggestion.
But God’s inclusivity is always scandalous. It always extends further than we are comfortable with, to people we’d rather it didn’t. The family of God is much less neat and homogenous than we’d prefer it to be, and that’s just how God likes it.
Now as Christians we have tends to identify with the Centurion in this story. It makes sense, this is the story where Jesus makes it clear that gentiles (people who aren’t Jewish) can be included into God’s family, and most Christians, especially in Scotland, are gentiles. It’s passages like this that allow gentiles like me to be part of the faith.
But I think that we have less in common with the Centurion, and are much more like the crowds watching. Jesus was speaking to the insiders of his faith and challenging them to accept the other, to see faith in someone they had dismissed. We are the insiders of our faith, the ones who decide who gets to come in. Jesus’s is always challenging us to get over our preconceptions and to embrace the radical inclusivity of God’s Kingdom.
Prayer: Welcoming God thank you that you have accepted me regardless of my background, status or abilities, you love me just as I am. Help me to offer the same acceptance of others and give me eyes to see faith in the places I may least expect it.
Action: Look for people in your life who may not be Christians, but who live and act in a Christ-like way. Be sure to let them know that you appreciate them.