When You Have Weak Faith In An Almighty God
The Tale Of Two Firefighters
There were two firefighters on the roof of a burning building. Because the fire was growing in intensity they had to find a way to their ladder so they could exit off of that roof. But the ladder was on the opposite side of the structure. The first firefighter strode off with great confidence. He took a direct path to the ladder, across the middle of the roof. He had all faith that the trusses and roof structure under his feet would support him. He was sure he would make it to the ladder and to safety.
The second firefighter, wasn’t at all sure the roof would support him. He chose to walk along the perimeter, skirting around the middle of the building. (The middle of the roof is the weakest area of a building that’s on fire.) It was a longer route to the safety of the ladder, but he was told that the part of the roof that would remain strongest was the part directly over the top of the walls supporting it, near the edges. But he didn’t have all faith that the roof would support him. He was afraid. He only had enough faith to start walking the path he chose.
As the first firefighter, the confident firefighter, was about halfway to the ladder, near the middle of the roof, the surface under his feet gave way, and he fell into the flames.
The second firefighter, the one who was unsure, the one who chose to walk over the top of the vertical walls supporting the perimeter, made it to the ladder. And with a great sigh of relief, he climbed down to safety.
The moral of the story: “Strong faith in a weak object is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong object.” –Timothy Keller
The Tale Of Two Leaders
The son of a leader in the community was seriously sick, so sick he was near death. It’s something that will happen to all of us, without exception. There’s an ancient saying: “The black camel of grief kneels at every man’s gate.” Every one of us will face tragedy in one form or another. It’s a matter of when, not if. And when this boy’s father heard Jesus was in Galilee, he went to Jesus and asked him to make the four hour journey to his house, in the hope that Jesus could heal his dying son.
And after this request, Jesus says something surprising, he says: Unless you see signs and wonders you won’t believe.
Maybe Jesus senses a lack of belief in this man. As we’ll learn later in the story, at this point the man’s faith is incomplete. He apparently doesn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah, as God’s own Son. He’s just a father desperate to save the life of his own son. And it would appear that he knows enough about Jesus to think he may have the ability to save him.
So the official blurts out: Sir, come down to my house, before my son dies.
And then Jesus says: Go, your son will live.
To the man’s credit, he believed Jesus’ words and headed for home. On his way his servants met him and told him that his son was going to be okay.
Do you imagine, as I do, the feeling that father had at the news? Have you had that feeling before? That overwhelming sensation when you’re flooded with relief and joy, that’s what I imagine the father felt. And he asked his servants: When? When did he begin to get better?
Yesterday, the servants said. Around the seventh hour was when the fever left him.
The father knew that was when Jesus said to him: Go, your son will live.
And the father, that official, that leader in the community believed, and all his household believed. And the idea is that they believed completely. Now he not only knew what Jesus could do, but he knows who Jesus is, the Messiah, the Son of God. (John 4:46-54)
Now contrast that community leader, that official, with another leader. This second leader is a centurion. He came to Jesus and said, Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, and he’s suffering terribly.
Jesus said to this centurion: I’ll come to your place, and heal him.
But the centurion said: Lord, I’m not worthy to have you under my roof. Just say the word and my servant will be okay. See, I’m a man under authority, and I also have soldiers under me. If I say to one “Go,” he goes, and if I say to another, “Come,” he comes…
Jesus marveled, and he said of this man: Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.
And the centurion’s servant was healed. (Matthew 8:5-13)
So there’s the tale of two leaders, one with incomplete and weak, or weak-ish, faith. But, the moral of the story is the same as the two firefighters. Even though the first leader’s faith was much less than that of the second, his faith was well placed. He put what faith he had in Jesus.
Your Doubts And Weak Faith
Maybe you have doubts. Maybe you wonder about Jesus, or the veracity of the scriptures, or the parts of the Bible that are difficult to understand, or the parts that are difficult to accept.
If that’s you, take heart. You don’t need a strong faith. What’s far more important is putting your faith in the right place. So do what the first leader did. He didn’t understand everything about Jesus, and God, and the scriptures. He didn’t have the kind of faith the second leader had, but, he took what faith he did have to Jesus.
“Strong faith in a weak object is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong object.”
Weak faith in Almighty God and His Son is the difference between life and death.
[Image via Los Angeles Fire Dept–Creative Commons]