Has someone ever said to you, “I don’t trust anyone?” First, imagine living life like that. Someone who lives such a paranoid life could never be happy. You cannot love if you cannot trust. Second, anyone who says that hasn’t walked down the road of thinking that through to the end. You certainly cannot function in modern society, or really among humans, without some level of trust. Even when driving (when trust is often least), we generally trust people. We have no choice. To get from one place to the other we have to expect that everyone is trying to get to their destination, too, and will behave accordingly. Oddly enough, if such a person were to exist, there is still one person they have to trust, themselves.
While it is almost impossible to distrust everyone, it is far to easy for people to believe in those who are in power or have influence. We often seem to turn off our common sense and our ability to discern right from wrong when dealing with certain people. Sometimes, even more strangely, we continue to trust people that have already betrayed our trust. People put a lot of trust in the things of man: wealth, power, influence, cars, homes, boats, knowledge, etc. The most dangerous trust, though, is when we get to the point where human knowledge trumps God. For clarity, we’re talking about God. We aren’t talking about, for example, evolution and Genesis, or Jonah and the whale (fish). We’re talking about trusting things of man rather than God. The thing that probably endangers man most of all is knowledge.
Whether your perspective of the Garden of Eden (a story in the book of Genesis) is a parable (story) or definitive truth, the underlying truth (other than humankind’s pride) is that knowledge is a barrier between us and God. We put it there. We chose, and daily choose, to put knowledge between ourselves and God. Our society honors and elevates those who use knowledge to oppose God. This is nothing new. The sad state of most American Christians (and there are exceptions) is that if there is an enemy (of which America has had and has made many) the general response is not one of, “God, forgive us.” It is, “…raise the Department of Defense budget.” We often justify this response by saying, “it’s a wise choice.” The question we should constantly be asking ourselves “is it the God-ly choice.” Now, here is the real rub. Honest (with themselves) Christians may disagree on many fronts including “just” war, dealing with poverty, dealing with immigration. That is perfectly okay (and normal). What is not normal, and should be, is, “what is God’s response to this through me?” Am I honoring God, or dishonoring God. Again, the reality is that different people will come to different conclusions. Yep.
When we trust God’s redemptive work in us and by extension God’s redemptive work in others, we can trust people not because people are trustworthy. We trust God’s work because it’s God’s work, not ours. When we trust God’s work, we become that tree planted by the water, nourished by the love and grace of God. God’s transformative grace continually works on, in, and through us. Changing our lives from ones that trusted the things and ways of man, into lives the revolve around God and his love. When God justified us he set us apart to be weird. Trust God. God does amazing things.
1) Even in the church, people often turn to the ways of man. Why do you think that is?
2) Especially in the church, people turning to the ways of man is problematic at best, sinful at worst. How can you tell when something is the “ways of man” rather than the “ways of God”?
3) Often the phrase, “the reason of the heart,” is used to not judge another (and justifiably), but also it is used to justify our personal actions. Why is the concept of only God knowing our heart (both feeling and motivation) both freeing and very dangerous?
FD) How can you start asking yourself “is this God’s way” questions? What do you think the result will be?