In God We Trust
I was invited to write a reflection on something that’s on my heart and that I want to share with the congregation. I thought about writing on how Jesus’ call to love our enemies should help define how we understand the nature of God. I’ve chosen a text to include in the day's reading that reflects that concern, but the issue that grabs my attention here is the matter of Trust
It is increasingly clear that there is a crisis of trust that is affecting families, churches, and communities large and small. Although there is a need for healthy skepticism and even suspicion – don’t believe everything you hear or read, especially if it comes by way of an email, but without a certain degree of trust society can’t sustain itself.
The prophet Micah, who declares so beautifully what God desires from us (Mic. 6:8), also writes: “Put no trust in a friend, have no confidence in a loved one; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your embrace; . . .” (Mic. 7:5). Yes, the prophet says – your enemies are in your household, which means the only one you can trust is God (7:6-7).
I recently had the opportunity to be with Martin Marty at the Academy of Parish Clergy, and Marty spoke to the issue that he deals with in his powerful new book Building Cultures of Trust. In reflecting on the biblical perspective concerning trust, he writes: “We cannot build cultures of trust on the basis of faith in the natural trustworthiness of humans” (p. 61). That said, Marty believes, and I agree, that the church, the people of God, are called to build cultures of trust in the midst of so much distrust.
We start with the recognition that in recent years scandal and disappointment have damaged our trust in the political, the corporate, and even the religious realms. There is much reason for being distrustful, but if we distrust our neighbor, then our tendency is to withdraw inwardly and cease to engage in relationships with others. We become fearful of the other, and can become self-centered and unconcerned about the needs of others. We take down the welcome sign and build barriers that we believe will protect us from the other. With that the concern for the common good begins to die.
As we take this Lenten journey together, I’m hopeful that we might hear the call to put our trust in God, and with this trust our own distrust can be transformed into a movement of reconciliation and healing. Micah says to us – trust in God. In Romans 4, Paul points us to Abraham and Sarah, who trusted God and God reckoned this trust as righteousness (Rom. 4:20-22). Their trust led to the creation of a family and a nation – that was called upon to be a blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:1-3).
With our trust placed in God, who calls on us to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us, perhaps we can make a difference in the world. With God’s wisdom and guidance, we can join together in building this culture of trust. And trust will allow us to continue our journey into the future with hope and not fear as our companion, committed to what Marty calls “trustworthy systems” (pp. 183-184).
Reposted from the Central Woodward Christian Church 2011 Lenten Devotional -- edited by John McCauslin.