‘The man believed what Jesus told him and left’; once in a while i read a Scripture and think how much i would like it to be in my epitaph. This is one of those. A desperate father comes to implore Jesus to come home with him and heal his dying son. He has ostensibly done a day’s journey from Capernaum to Cana for that purpose. Jesus, rather than go with him simply says to him ‘Go, your son will live’. And the man believes Jesus and goes back home, and it was so. John 4.50. Astounding!; not that the child was healed, that i do not marvel at, rather that this distraught father was able to take Jesus’s words at face value, believe his son was healed; and proceeded to return home. Am a capable of such faith? It has been said that we live in an age of unbelief but is that really so? Has man’s essence fundamentally changed?
I think not. When i was a young, new, inexperienced and somewhat incompetent driver, i would marvel at how much blind faith pedestrians had in me. Indeed i became an extremely careful pedestrian after i started driving; i realised i had placed excessive trust in perfect strangers behind a wheel who could be drunk, incompetent, or daredevils; and many often are. People are wired for faith. They believe, despite the thousands of accidents a year, that the government only puts competent people on the road, that drivers maintain their driving skills, that they are generally sane, and so cross the road expecting to make it to the other side unhurt.
I am wired for faith. I express faith unthinkingly in the unknown manufacturer of canned food, that he’s telling the truth about the expiry date, that there are no rodent droppings in the can; in the government , that it is scrupulously checking to ensure the manufacturer is not lying; and in the overall transport and storage facilities managed by people i do not know. Despite the unfortunate deaths of 84 Nigerian children poisoned by a teething drug, the infamous My Pikin, (pidgin for my child), parents are still using teething drugs for their children, they just switch brands.
I eat what is set before me in a restaurant supposing it to be fit for human consumption and devoid of malicious arsenic content. Of course I draw a line at taking a sandwich from a man with blackened dirt in his fingers as i once saw. But i am not deterred by the number of restaurant inspections that show unacceptable standards of cleanliness in eating establishments. I believe, when i walk into my tea shop La Septième Tasse in Brussels that i am walking out with the real deal and not adulterated stuff. I have faith in these perfect strangers, and take them at their word.
I can do no less for God. Faith is essentially a moral choice. We may not wish to believe because it violates our worldview (to which we hold tenaciously as gospel truth), and may exclude us from a particular community (we are often prisoners of public opinion); sometimes it is because of the attendant lifestyle changes we feel unable to make. But we can none of us say that we are hampered by a congenital inability to believe, none of us is missing the faith gene, we all believe something and some things; it is our choice what we believe, and it does matter. And church attendance is not the sop we offer God to compensate for an otherwise faithless life. Peculiarly, God having wired us for faith, likes us to express it towards Him.
The man believed what Jesus told Him; so can we if we choose to.