Thursday, December 28, 2006

Trust me

Gandhi, who had closely observed Christianity as practiced around him in Great Britain and in Europe, remarked that if only Christians would live according to their belief in the teachings of Jesus, "we all would become Christians." We know what he meant, and he was right. But the dismaying truth is that the Christians were living according to their "belief" in the teachings of Jesus. They didn't believe them! They did not really trust him . . . The idea that you can trust Christ and not intend to obey him is an illusion generated by the prevalence of an unbelieving "Christian culture." In fact, you can no more trust Jesus and not intend to obey him than you could trust your doctor or your auto mechanic and not intend to follow their advice. If you don't intend to follow their advice, you simply don't trust them.---Dallas Willard

This kind of trust implies a willingness to bet ourselves and our stuff on Jesus' Way--especially since Jesus' teachings deal with ourselves and our stuff. Along with my earlier posts (and Jesus' statements on discipleship), it's an 'everything' kind of trust. Assuming for a second that we somehow get this willingness to risk everything we have and are on Jesus, what would we really be risking? If we persistently and consciously let go of every 'right', and just accept whatever he gives and takes away through mercy, what do we think we'll lack exactly? Aren't we already dependent upon his mercy for every breath? Literally, aren't I still breathing because he chooses it to be so? Aren't you? What does anyone have that isn't ultimately a gift from God? I know that, for me, the thought that my ongoing life--including my eternal life--hangs completely on the undeserved kindness of Another made me very afraid for a long time. "I'm such a loser. How can I secure (control) his ongoing approval?! There's no way I can make him show me mercy!" I still have a hard time accepting that everything I have now, or will ever have, comes through mercy. I'd rather trust my rights; I just don't think I want what I'm entitled to. Trusting mercy, embracing mercy, showing mercy is just stepping out of denial that I've ever had anything else--in this world or the next. It's stepping into the only reality that there is. It's not really a risk, it just feels like it. God is committed to me--forever--in undeserved love. Showing such love to others, even to my apparent loss, is the truest evidence that I trust this all important fact of my existence.


steven hamilton said...

though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.

funny you brought up the 'rights issue' i just had this hard conversation with my step-father during the holidays. he was so bent on 'our rights', and i kept bringing him back to Jesus and laying down your rights and trusting Jesus. He knew I was right, as he reads the same Bible I do, but man it was hard for him to get through his pre/mis-conceptions about what living for Christ looks like today in America.

so, T, i'd like your perspective on a situation. recently at a church i know, they asked a young man to step out of helping to lead the youth group, because he was going to marry his non-Christian girlfriend. so, the background is that they had already been sleeping together, yet months earlier he had confessed that and had determined that he should marry her. now, the pastors, it seemed to me (and to my friend) were calling him to step aside because he was being insistent on marrying a non-Christian and becoming 'unequally yoked'. my perspective is that because they were all ready sleeping together, they had become one-flesh in the eyes of God [why on earth, then would a piece of paper matter?]. also, i think that he was actually demonstrating sacrificial love for this girl in that he remained committed to her, determined to marry her and still hold on to his faith, instead of what apparently the pastors wanted: convert her or get rid of her.

the deeper issue that i saw in this situation was they had no trust in Jesus that He would change this girls heart through my friend and others and that instead she would end up changing my friend. now, i don't want to generalize at all, but for this situation, with my friend, i think he is trusting Jesus more radically than the pastors seem capable of. what do you think?

T said...

Goodness. Honestly, I could see God doing something in either direction on the marriage and the youth position, depending on a lot of things. And I wouldn't presume to know which was which from a distance. Also, deciding if the church should condone a leadership position is different than affirming someone's membership in the church, or even if they think God is likely to work well within his marriage. I can see how the church might be over-reacting or being too conservative (especially if he helps lead by cooking food, for example). But they may honestly be concluding that he's too immature or unstable for leadership of youth. Both premarital sex and getting involved romantically with unbelievers are big issues for youth. His actions wouldn't exactly make him an attractive candidate for leadership in the church at large, so it's hard to say we should allow a lesser standard for leading youth. But these are just generalities on the few facts you gave. The specifics could make all the difference.

steven hamilton said...

sorry to lay that on you T, but i was caught in the moment. there are a lot of issues, very specific issues in this very specific case...and it could go either way...the one thing that resonated with me was my friends decision after much prayer and counseling to stick with this girl. there is also the trusting factor (which is what your post was about), and it just seemed to me that he was trusting Jesus much more than others. again, sorry to lay that on you, i know from a distance not much could really be commented on. thanks T

Douglas said...

Re: your comment here

Thanks for the clarification you gave of where Brant is coming from. After having read Brant's link to Wright, I'm still at a loss to reconcile what Brant and Wright say, let alone what Brant, you, Wright and Jesus say, but the background you wrote helps me understand where you folks are coming from.

I wish there was more time to discuss this, but there is life to be lived outside of blogging.


Douglas said...

Aside from that, the other comments are far more interesting than the original post.

Just two comments,
"they had no trust in Jesus that He would change this girls heart through my friend and others and that instead she would end up changing my friend."

Could it be that they were also concerned for the children of the marriage and their souls? It's difficult enough to raise kids with two parents following Christ. When one is unequally yoked, every child that doesn't abandon their faith in adulthood is a miracle. Just something else to consider...

"my perspective is that because they were all ready sleeping together, they had become one-flesh in the eyes of God [why on earth, then would a piece of paper matter?]."
I don't have all the answers, but this sure raises some big questions. What does it take for a marriage to be considered valid in God's eyes? Surely not every piece of paper issued by the state of Nebraska or the state of Massachusetts is valid. Does having heterosexual sex in a fairly committed dating relationship create a marriage (or something equivalent to a betrothal) in God's eyes? What are the minimum standards God has for a marriage to be valid?

Deep topics.