A centurion walks up to Jesus of Nazareth in the New Testament (Matthew 8:5) and asks him to heal his sick and suffering servant. The centurion has heard rumors about Jesus (see Luke 7:3). He has no relationship with him. He has no personal experience with him. He doesn’t even have the religious background to know that such a man as Jesus is expected to come and what he was likely to be capable of. He has simply heard stories about what Jesus was doing as he exercised his authority around Israel.
The centurion brings with him a belief that efficient hierarchical structures work and that they effectively accomplish the will and purpose of the authority to which they answer. He is absolutely convinced of this, so much so that he knows it can be accomplished from a distance and that Jesus need not come to his house to do it. His request is granted.
There is power in belief, even uninformed belief. I think that makes many of us uncomfortable, on one side because belief has always been considered a stop gap measure for childish ignorance, and on the other side because so-called belief is really more about loyalty to an old and familiar story that we find great comfort in.
Either way, there is something about belief that transcends what we know. It is somehow near to the heart of the matter. We’re going to need it if we want life, regardless of what we know, be it drawn from data or based on religious tradition.
It’s OK to start with a deep belief in something much larger than yourself even if it feels unfamiliar. Most people dismiss it and move on, but a few… a centurion here, a leper there, a fisherman… a few step onto that path and are never the same.