Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.Hebrews 11:1 TPT
Faith is powerful.
This scripture teaches us that faith is what brings our hopes into reality. So many incredible things have happened over the course of human history because people had the faith to see beyond what was in front of them and look ahead to what could be.
In the Bible, we learn that one of our deepest longings and hopes is to feel loved unconditionally (see Proverbs 19:22), and that love can be found in our relationships with God and others. Hebrews 11:1 teaches us that faith in God helps us bring this hope for loving relationships into reality.
Building close and loving friendships can be scary. What if you put your heart out there, and get rejected? What if you attach to someone, and they hurt you? It can be easy to become fearful, mistrustful, and guarded in relationships. That’s why we need God’s help to have the faith necessary to take a risk in opening ourselves up to friends.
One of my favorite movies is The Matrix, and I think it illustrates this point well. In the movie, the character Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) believed in Neo (Keanu Reeves), and helped Neo overcome his unbelief so he could fulfill his destiny and save the world.
In Morpheus’ initial meeting with Neo he told him:
“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it…
You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind.”Morpheus, The Matrix
I believe this is the type of relationship that God wants to build with us every day—one that helps us let go of fear, doubt, and disbelief so we can be free to do the impossible and unimaginable through our faith in him.
Once we learn to build this kind of relationship with God that sets us free, we can then build strong relationships with each other.
In this devotional, we will look at a centurion (a Roman officer), who chose to live by faith. We can learn from his example how faith can help us build transformative friendships. Faith in God helps us find the confidence to be ourselves, overcome any conflict or obstacle in relationships, and love others wholeheartedly.
Faith frees us to be ourselves
There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.”Luke 7:2-6 NIV
The centurion’s faith in God allowed him to be humble and focus more on Jesus’ goodness and power than his own, which led him to see his need to ask for help. We can learn from him that faith in God gives us the security to see our weaknesses, inadequacies, and unworthiness without feeling disqualified or defeated, because our focus is on God. This can free us to be ourselves.
The centurion believed Jesus would help him, which led to his willingness to look weak. Unbelief has often led me to deny my weaknesses because I think they will stop me from being heard by God. This unbelief can lead to me being proud and relying on my own efforts to be right with God instead of relying solely on his incredible qualities, one of which is his goodness.
This unbelieving pride plays out in two different ways for me:
- I hide feeling not good enough. Maybe you’re like me, and at times have wanted to ask God for something but didn’t feel you deserved it. I have felt this way when it comes to asking for forgiveness. I try to deny or lie my way out of guilt rather than exercising faith in the fact that God is a forgiving God.
- I spend all my effort proving I am good enough. I try to earn or work for God’s approval. I tell myself that if I do enough good, God will bless me with what I want. Have you ever been mad at God because you feel that you’ve invested a lot into a specific area, whether it be relationships, career, or some other place and because of that investment, God owes it to you to give you whatever you are asking for?
These two ways of handling my weaknesses and shortcomings lack faith; they both are centered around myself and my efforts instead of God and his abilities.
The Roman centurion realized he wasn’t deserving, but he still chose to ask for Jesus’ help. He didn’t hide his weaknesses nor did he try to convince Jesus that he deserved to receive what he was asking for.
When we stop trying to perform our way to move God, we can start exercising our faith with honesty and humility. We will stop looking at ourselves and our performance so much and find the freedom to see God working in our lives.
Faith focuses us on God, which allows us to be free to be ourselves. In turn, this helps our relationships become closer and more secure. When we aren’t afraid to be ourselves with our friends, we create an environment where they feel the same.
Pause and reflect
- What are some things that make you feel inadequate or weak?
- Which way of dealing with these feelings of inadequacy do you relate to the most? (hiding them, proving yourself, embracing them)
- What would it look like for you to be free to be yourself with God and friends?
- In your prayers, take time to acknowledge where you feel inadequate, unworthy, or powerless so you can learn to exercise faith by focusing on God and his qualities instead of your performance.
- Have a conversation with friends about the areas of weakness you see in your life so they can pray with you and help you refocus on God.
Faith trusts God’s Word
That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”Luke 7:7-8 NIV
The centurion believed in the power of Jesus’ words and that they would lead to the healing of his valued servant.
We often can read God’s Word but not experience its power or transformative benefits on our relationships because we don’t combine what we are reading with faithful obedience (Hebrews 4:2). Like Morpheus told Neo in The Matrix, “There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”
The same is true for us. Our faith will grow when we exercise it by following God and obeying the Bible. Once we put his Word into practice and see it work, our faith and trust in it grows.
When my wife Tenea and I have hurt each other in our marriage and trust is broken, I can feel like when she changes or proves to me she is done hurting me then I will give my heart again in our relationship. I think I have a right to be bitter and as a result I don’t believe we can overcome the distance, distrust, and insecurity caused by the hurt.
In these moments, I have learned that healing can only come by deciding to read and obey passages of the Bible like Ephesians 5:25-31 about husbands loving our wives as Christ loved the church. Obeying these verses is done by having faith that God will work through my obedience to him and help me forgive, reconcile, and love Tenea. Each time I have been willing to do so, God has healed our marriage and helped us grow closer in our relationship.
Pause and reflect
- What do you doubt can change in your close relationships (marriage, friends, roommates, or family members)?
- How can you obey the Bible in those relationships to energize your faith?
- Take time to write out passages of the Bible that you want to start putting into practice in your relationships.
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.Luke 7:9 NIV
Jesus recognized the centurion had great faith, and it was this faith that motivated the centurion to take action to care for his servant. When we have faith, it will show itself in how much we love others.
[…] The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.Galatians 5:6b NIV
Throughout this story, the centurion showed his love by doing everything he could to help his servant find healing (Luke 7:3). In the same way, when we choose to live by faith, we will find ourselves doing everything we can to help others find healing in areas of their lives where they have experienced pain.
In addition, we also see how faith expressing itself through love builds others up (Luke 7:5, I Corinthians 8:1-2). This Roman officer wasn’t even Jewish, but still built a synagogue so more people could find a relationship with God.
As a result of his faith and love, the centurion built great relationships and was able to see his servant healed. This reminds me of yet another quote from The Matrix when Morpheus had taken Neo to see a character named the Oracle who was capable of telling people their future. Here is what she told Neo:
“I see the end coming. I see the darkness spreading. I see death. And you are all that stands in his way.” ― Oracle
Though we may not be living in the Matrix, our world can get dark sometimes. We are capable of being the people who stand in the way of that darkness by believing that God chose us to be the friend that others around us need.
Like the Oracle’s prophecy about Neo and the healing outcome of the centurion’s faith, we can also know with great confidence that when we exercise our faith to love, God will use us to help other people.
Pause and reflect
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and identify what aspect of love you have the hardest time expressing in your relationships? Which aspect are you good at that you can help spread to others?
- How can you exercise your faith by loving the friends that God has placed in your life?
- Make a list of people that you will pray about daily to decide to love. After you pray for them, write down things that come to mind that you could do to encourage or help them.
Check out these resources to learn more about how to grow in your faith and build the types of close and loving friendships we all desire.
- Deep Spirituality devotional