Finding Faith in Unexpected Places

Finding Faith in Unexpected Places

Finding Faith in Unexpected Places (Luke 7.1-10)

Our scripture today is about faith,

finding faith in unexpected places.

The Bible is a book about faith.

The Bible has a cast of characters:

some of them live by faith, others don’t.

We see faith and unfaith in the Bible.


Our Bible story today is about a man

who was living by faith.

So much so that even Jesus praised his faith.


But before talking about this man,

I want to talk about faith itself.

In high school geometry,

I learned the place to start is to define terms.

What is a point? What is a line? What is a circle?


In the same way, it’s good to define the term faith. What is faith?

To answer this, think about the questions we ask.

Say you suddenly lost your home, you would ask basic questions.

Where will I sleep tonight? Where will I eat?

How will I shower or wash my clothes?

These are questions the homeless ask, and they spend their days looking for answers.


You and I don’t ask these questions.

We have a place to sleep, eat, and wash.

We ask other questions.

How will I get all the things done on my to do list?

Is it time to get a new car?

How can I help my son with his needs?

Or my daughter, or my parents?

These are practical questions we ask.

At times, though, we ask still other questions.

Early in the morning or late at night

we ask deeper questions:

Who am I? What is my purpose?

What do I do with my regrets, my mistakes, my guilt?

Where do we go after we die?


When we ask deep questions, we stand at the door of faith.

We haven’t yet walked through the door; we only stand, knock, and wait for answers.


We step through the door when we look to God for answers to our deep questions.

When we accept the answers God offers, we have walked through the door of faith.


When we ask, Who am I?

God says, You are my beloved child.

When we ask, What is my purpose?

God says, To love me and love your neighbor.

When we ask, What do I do with my regrets and my guilt?

God says, You are acquitted, and forgiven.

When we ask, What happens after I die?

God says, I will preserve you, I will welcome you.


Faith means looking to God for answers.

Faith means trusting God to BE the answer to our deep questions.

The Bible says whoever comes to God must believe he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Faith doesn’t mean you have God all figured out.

Faith only means you trust that God has it all figured out.

Such is faith.

This brings me back to our Bible reading to the Roman soldier who had faith.

He had a faith that Jesus praised.


I imagine this man asked the deep questions.

Who am I? What is my purpose?

He ask them each day as he went about his soldiering.

And after a long search,  he found his answers in the God of Israel.

He stepped through the door of faith.

But he never actually became Jewish.

This is important to note.

He was certainly friendly to Judaism.

To become Jewish he needed to be circumcised, and Roman law prevented him from doing that.

He always remained an outsider to the Jewish religion, which was the religion of Jesus himself.


And Jesus praised his faith.

Jesus commended the faith of someone outside his own religion.

He held it up as a model. That’s striking.


Along with being an outsider, the soldier was an enemy.

He was a Roman officer.

He was a tool of the imperial occupying power.

And Jesus praised his faith.


Someone can be outside my religion and have faith.

Someone can be my political enemy and have faith.

Faith is independent of the boundaries we draw.

And faith appears in unexpected places

like a bright flower that grows up between slabs of concrete.


In this series of sermons we’re looking at how our church can be externally focused,

how we can look outside our circle.

We already are, in a certain way.

We’re externally focused by being in service to people in Adrian and throughout the world.

We build ramps. We volunteer at hospice.

We distribute food.

We support relief efforts in other countries.


These sermons are inviting us to be externally focused in a different way.

Not only in service, but also in relationship, in relationship with people beyond our circle.

Relationship with outsiders, relationship even with enemies.


To be in relationship is different than to be in service.

It requires different skills and a diferent approach.

To be in relationship with someone, you learn their name, you eat a meal with them, you listen to their story, you share your story with them.

To be in relationship takes time, patience, and humility.


Why be in a relationship with people outside our circle?

Because they’re asking deep questions.

It may not be obvious that they are.

If you’re in line at the grocery store, and there’s a woman in front of you, she may not suddenly turn and say,  “I am wondering what my purpose in life is.”

But deep inside, she may be asking that.


Everyday we come in contact with people asking deep questions.

People you’d never expect are standing at the door of faith.

They’re seekers. They’re looking for answers.


Like that Roman officer, we have found our answers in the God of Israel, in the God of Jesus.

If we build a relationship with these seekers we can invite them to step through the door of faith and come inside with us where it’s warm.


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