Faith is usually portrayed as something invisible and abstract. While we cannot see faith, we can perceive its existence. That is why faith is described as a ‘substance’ (Hebrews 11:1). A substance is measurable and that is why Jesus would use terms such as ‘little faith’ or ‘great faith’ to describe and quantify it. James even challenges, ‘Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do’ (James 1:18). He then makes a conclusion that, ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead’ (v26). These statements demonstrate that while faith is not tangible in itself, its expressions should clearly be seen. Otherwise, it is no faith at all because faith always finds a way out, just like smoke finds its way out of a chimney. Deeds, however, do not bring about faith just like the chimney itself does not produce smoke. No wonder Jesus says of the faithless, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’ (Luke 16:31), because ‘faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of God’ (Romans 10:17). Once ’faith as small as a mustard seed’ (Matthew 17:20) is present in someone, it finds a way to express itself. Because faith has to express itself- one way or another.
When a certain Centurion ‘heard of Jesus’ (Luke 7:3), he expressed his faith the best way he knew how. When his valued servant fell ill, his faith was expressed through an application of his occupation, which was almost exactly how God’s Kingdom operates. Being a Centurion, he was well acquainted with military ranks and understood its significance. So, this prompted him to send ‘some elders of the Jews to him (Jesus) asking him to come and heal his servant’ (v3). Since the Jewish elders were around Jesus more and well-known with Him compared to the Centurion, he uses the ranking as a means to petition his request. True enough, the elders ‘pleaded earnestly with him (Jesus), ‘This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue’ (v4-5). The elders acted as what the heavenly Kingdom would term as ‘mediators’, and ‘So Jesus went with them’ (v6). In the same way, just like the Centurion, when we offer our requests, we need to ensure that we send them through our Mediator, Jesus Christ, because we are alienated from God and do not know much about Him because of our sinful nature. ‘For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men’ (1 Timothy 2:5). Our asking through our ready, willing, and earnest Mediator, Jesus, expresses our faith. ‘Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess’ (Hebrews 4:14).
When Jesus was not far from the house, the Centurion sends friends to say to Him, ‘Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed’ (Luke 7:6-7). This was also an expression of faith on the Centurion’s part, because it asserted the great power that Jesus had. Thanks to his occupation, he knew that a command is sufficient to make things happen. He even says, ‘For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell one, ‘Go’, and he goes; and that one, ‘Come’, and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this’, and he does it.’ (v8). Upon hearing this, Jesus ‘was amazed at him’ (v9). He was amazed because there was someone who spoke in a way that resonated with how His kingdom operates. Jesus who is said to have ‘armies of heaven’ (Revelation 19:14) following Him, is a Commander-in-Chief and so understood well what the Centurion meant. With different ranking of angels under His authority, Jesus commands them ‘to do his bidding’ (Psalm 103:20), and they obey all at once. That is why David ascertains, ‘For he will command his angels concerning you’ (91:v11). So, the Centurion’s knowledge on God’s Kingdom operation, aided by his occupation served as an expression of his faith, causing Jesus to remark, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith in Israel’ (Luke 7:9). As a result of the Centurion’s faith expressed as applied knowledge, his servant was made well.
A ‘woman who had lived a sinful life’ (v37) anointed Jesus’s feet, expressing her faith in the way she could. When ‘she learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping’ (v38), she then ‘wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them’ (v38). The faith the woman had was expressed as love. While she did not make any request to Jesus, this expression of faith requires no asking because it directly moves the heart of God without using any words. That is why Jesus says, ‘Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little’ (v47). The woman’s love overshadowed her sins because it expressed her faith. So, Jesus tells her, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace’ (v50). Love for God is one of the most paramount ways a Believer demonstrates their faith in Him. Those who are merely religious cannot move God’s heart and that is why Jesus tells the Pharisees, ‘but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts’ (John 5:41). Loving God comes as result of knowing and understanding Him through His Word and prayer, and letting go of our attitudes and beliefs to flow with His. After all, love is not restrained or constrained- it overflows. Our love for God then trickles down to loving others, helping us fulfil Hi command because, ‘All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’ (Matthew 22:39) – Loving God and loving man.
Faith can express itself in a myriad of other ways such as ‘holy fear’ (Hebrews 11:7), ‘obedience’ (v8), submission, joy, expectation, defying odds, and boldness. However, the most prominent expressions are practically appropriating God’s knowledge in our lives and loving God with all our hearts, minds, and soul. However, an expression of faith is not for show nor is it mechanical, but springs naturally from faith already in us. For expressions in themselves are not faith itself, because faith is incomprehensible. For instance, ’By faith, we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible’ (v3). While we may not have all the specifics of how the world came to be, faith enables us to perceive the reality of it. In the same way, faith cannot be fully explained, but its expressions help us know that it exists in a person. In fact, faith works in an atmosphere of hope, because ‘faith is being sure what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’ (v1). Just like God is unseen with our bare eyes, we are sure of Him because of our faith. Thus, faith is central in belief in God, and is most pleasing to Him, because ‘without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek him’ (v6).
‘Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’ ~ John 20:29
‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free’ ~ John 8:31-32