Last week I introduced you to a couple guys who had a crazy kind of faith. Have you ever had people think you’re crazy because you demonstrated faith like that? In the case of these two guys who got up close and person with Jesus, we might even say that they had criminal faith.
How does Jesus feel about that kind of faith, about criminal faith?
He was a man who responded to the criminal faith of people by demonstrating the power of God. In Luke 5:12-26 we looked at two stories, and in both instances people display a criminal faith and receive healing.
First, a man is desperate to be clean of leprosy so he breaks the Old Testament cleanliness laws to get close to Jesus. Jesus responds likewise, breaking the law by touching the man to heal him.
In the second story, a paralyzed man and his friends are desperate for the paralyzed man to walk again. They get on the roof of the packed house where Jesus is inside healing people. Up on the rooftop, they start removing the ceiling to open up a hole to let their friend down in front of the spot where Jesus is standing. Maybe people ripped up each others’ ceilings all the time in their culture, but in ours that would be criminal activity. Jesus responds once again by healing the man.
When is the last time you stepped out in reckless faith like these guys? When was the last time you knew, you were convinced that Jesus was so worth it, so awesome, so powerful, that you did something crazy for him?
I know that my practice of faith can become so boring, so stagnant, so blah, and it’s not because Jesus is boring. It’s because I let my faith get stagnant. Following Jesus is exciting and joyful and fulfilling. But I can just watch a lot of TV, play a lot games on my phone, and get stuck in a spiritual rut. I read the stories of the leper and of the paralyzed man and his friends and it excites me. It reminds of the days when my faith in Jesus was vibrant and I want to experience that again. This passage grips me. Does it grip you?
How will you show your criminal faith in Jesus?
Jesus counted their faith as effective for healing. So I ask, who are you having faith for? What can it look like to demonstrate faith on behalf of friends?
Prayer. Persistent prayer for friends. It requires faith, discipline. Especially when that person disappoints you, screws up yet again. It can be all to easy to think “that person will never change”. And then not pray. Years can go by and we can think that the person has not moved an inch. But let us be faithful in prayer!
How about a group of people intervening? It could mean taking an alcoholic friend to rehab, even against their wishes. Do you need to intervene in someone’s life? It could mean having a heart-to-heart talk with a friend who is struggling. Do you need to speak the truth in love to someone?
What will it look like for you to get someone in front of Jesus? In love, in grace?