Recently I've been drawn to Luke 7:2-10 which gives us a fascinating glimpse into what Jesus calls “great faith.” It tells the account of Jesus healing the Roman centurion's servant, where the soldier sends word to Jesus saying,
“Just say the word, and my servant will be healed! I too am a man under authority, having 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.”
Jesus marveled at this request, and called it “great faith.” To understand why, let's take a little deeper look at the life of a soldier.
Military personnel understand both being in a position of authority and being under it: they knew how to lead and how to serve. This soldier knew that he taken a pledge to immediately obey a superior officer's command, and he also expected the same instant obedience from warriors under his leadership. Somehow he knew that Jesus was in a position of authority in a heavenly Kingdom and could easily reach across space and time to heal his servant with just a word – sickness would bow its knee to the superior word. Something of this military understanding and application to faith deeply impressed Jesus.
Recently I've been embracing the position of being a warrior “under command” to the King of Kings. We talk about “being in God's army,” but how many of us really have the mindset that we are under the command of great Warrior and His orders require swift action on our part? Sometimes we brush the gentle prompting of the Spirit aside and are slow to respond, when His words are sometimes the very thing that would bring us the answers we seek.
Even as a child, I was fascinated by stories of militant faith; the kind that requires the swift response of a soldier in action. I remember a story told to me when I was about eight-years-old by a man who was witnessed the Jesus Movement in the 1970s. Apparently, a group of hippies lived together in a house in the inner city of Milwaukee, and after getting radically touched by Jesus, they wanted to witness in every possible situation so they wrote scriptures on their windows. The neighbors were openly hostile, and would sometimes throw rocks through the windows in protest against the “Jesus freaks.” My friend told this story in his deep, booming voice, but when he approached this point of memory, his voice lowered into a slightly secretive whisper.
“There was one man,” he confided, “who was so close to the Lord that He could clearly hear God's voice and obey at a moment's notice. One day, he heard God say, 'Duck!' He instantly obeyed, and a rock smashed through the nearby window and sailed over his head, in the very place he had been standing.”
Like the centurion in Luke's gospel, this man recognized that just a word from Jesus carried great authority. In this situation, his quick obedience possibly saved his life.
I can't say that I've achieved this type of complete trust and obedience yet, but I've recently been challenged to obey God in big ways. Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm hearing from the Lord, so I try to take extra time to figure that out rather than dismissing it. Other times, I know a prompting is from God, and I have to choose to obey, even if it's not my preference for the moment. That “inner nudge” of the Holy Spirit always points toward greater peace, even if it means going against the crowd or makes us a bit uncomfortable. Following Christ always pays off!
This week, let's seek to listen intently to the Lord, through His Word and Spirit, and rise up to respond quickly, just as warriors who seek to follow their commanding officer!
Prayer: Father, I want to hear Your voice clearly and have discernment to follow Your leading in both big and small opportunities. Give me the heart of a warrior who knows their assignment and carries it out completely, and let me see Your hand showing up in my life as a result!