“When Jesus heard this [from the centurion], he was amazed and said to those following him, ‘Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.'” (Matthew 8:10-11)
Here, Jesus reminds his followers, including all of us, that his Kingdom is open to everyone. Those who enter the Kingdom are those who have the kind of faith Jesus is looking for – not necessarily those people who belong to a particular nation or religion. In this passage, Jesus is speaking directly to his fellow Jews and telling them that the centurion (a foreigner in nationality and religion) has more real faith than they do! This must have been shocking for them to hear.
I imagine Jesus speaking this teaching to his fellow Christians today: “There are many people in other countries and other religions – east and west – who have greater faith than you do! They will enter God’s Kingdom. Indeed, many have already entered and joined our forefathers in true faith.”
He also seems to be implying that just because a person thinks he’s “saved,” that may not be, in fact, the case. Like he says elsewhere: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
When Jesus comes again, he will be looking for true faith. Such faith dwells deep within the heart where it manifests to God – and not necessarily outwardly in Christian trappings. So let us be very careful in judging for ourselves who we think is acceptable to Christ.