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A while back, I was having a conversation with a friend about the centrality of trust to Jesus’ teaching in the gospels, and Scripture as a whole. It seems to be a foundational principal of Kingdom thinking.
We were discussing the various tenets of faith, and trust, and belief, and as we hashed it out together, I made the following observation at some point in the conversation:
Trust is in/on the other person (the one trusted) NOT in the one doing the trusting.
I don’t believe that is how most of us view the concept of faith. Generally we view faith more intellectually—or, many might say non-intellectually—being a system of thought, doctrine, “beliefs” that one holds to, generally at the instruction of another. (Meaning, not generally a system that you have generated on your own.) And often “faith” is coupled with the word “blind” in that many view it as possible only through an irrational disconnection from logical thinking.
Examples of Faith, Belief, Trust from the Gospels
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.
I like to boil the three words belief, faith, and trust down to that last one: trust. It seems to me to convey action, as well as reason for action. That appears more consistent with the faith Jesus speaks of throughout his recorded words.
If the power of trust is rooted in the ability of the one trusted, does that not shift the focus of who is to be credited with any gain? Does it not relieve us of any guilt or shame we might feel from our failures to live a life we deem in compliance with God’s standards and commands? If Jesus is emphasizing faith, or trust—not to mention showing time and time again that he welcomes those whom society then branded as outcast, sinner, worthless—then is he not emphasizing that he is the one doing the work, not us? (And that is reinforced in many more places throughout the New Testament.)
When you trust someone, you are actually ceding some amount (or total) control to them. You are no longer in control of at least some aspect you previously might have had more control over. (For now I’ll not get into how much of an illusion “control” is at its most basic levels anyway…)
This is essentially what I believe Jesus is asking us to do.
Such surrender takes both courage and complete trust of the person to whom we are submitting. We trust that person will make choices that will benefit, not harm us. We trust in the case of Father his inherent goodness and his supreme, unconditional love for us. And we trust our personal experiences with him as well. That serves to grow our trust over time.
And we are agreeing to willfully let go of our own will and choosing, making it subservient to his.
This journey is not for the faint-hearted.
Jesus said as much, too. He said if you want to follow him—if you want to experience life in the Kingdom of God—you must be willing to abandon everything you know and love, and “take up your cross” and follow him. (Note that his instruction is very clearly tied to him rather than a set of behaviors to model. We are called to simply listen to and follow after Jesus. Period.)
I do believe that the amount of faith or trust that we have in Father is directly proportionate to the fullness of life we will experience.
Trust is not a switch you can turn on and off. It grows through relationship—with a person. You can study about it, I suppose… but in the end, trust is earned by the one being trusted. That only happens through interaction. It must, at least in part be experienced. I think that’s precisely why Jesus simply said, “Follow me.”
And that’s where we still find Life today.