Friday, April 5, 2013

That's Not Trust

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; [9] indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; [10] who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).

The circumstances in which the apostle found himself were dire indeed. When you've reached the point where you truly believe you are going to die, how much lower can you go? But God specializes in the impossible. As Jesus testified, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). What is required from man though is trust.

I would define trust as responsive faith. It believes, but doesn't only believe. It has faith, but that faith actively works. Trust means putting what you believe into practice.

“Did God really say that?”
"Yes, He really said that.”
“Did He mean it?”
“Yes, He really meant it.”
“And He actually wants me to do something about it?”
“Yup, that's the fact, Jack.”

I would suggest that there is little evidence that the modern church understands trust at all. For example, let's imagine Jesus is standing right on the other side of a deep chasm. He says, “Walk to Me.” Now, in the Bible we read of Peter and the trust that He placed in Jesus, getting out of the boat and walking on the water. But walking on air? Joe Christian is ready to obey though, so he grabs a hatchet, cuts down a few nearby trees, fashions a makeshift bridge, and is able to walk out on it just far enough to reach Jesus' hand. The Lord looked at him, sighed, shook His head, and said, “That's not trust.”

Imagine Jesus handing a note to Joe and saying, “Take this to your next door neighbor.” Hmmm. Joe's never actually talked to his next door neighbor. Doesn't even know his name, but he's willing to be obedient. So he calls a bunch of his friends and invites them to a party at his house. Knowing the noise of the party will get his neighbor's attention, he rents a large flashing signboard, programs in the message from Jesus, and sets it directly between his house and the neighbor's. And Joe, watching from his house, finally sees his neighbor look out his window and read the sign. The next day, Joe returns to Jesus with a big smile. “Mission accomplished!” The Lord looked at him, sighed, shook His head, and said, “That's not trust.”

Imagine Jesus taking Joe to a small lot in a relatively poor neighborhood. Joe notices a concrete foundation and a stack of building supplies nearby. Jesus says, “I want you to build a house.” He points to the supplies, “Everything you need is right there.” After Jesus leaves, Joe – ready to obey – rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. Framing the house doesn't take very long, since the wall studs were already together. Joe only had to raise them into place and secure them. He noticed a bag full of nails, but understanding the principles of construction, went out and bought power screws instead. He knew they would last much longer and be much more secure. Then Joe was ready to place the exterior walls. He noticed the boards Jesus provided weren't very attractive, and wanting to really please his Master, went out and bought better boards with his own money. By the time Joe was finished, the outside of the house was attractive and much more pleasing to the eye than those simple boards. All that was left was the inside. Again, Joe noticed the Lord's supplies were basic and minimal at best, so he called some of his friends in the community and asked if they would donate some better supplies for finishing and furnishing the inside of the Lord's house. Lots of people got involved, and soon the house was a veritable showplace inside. Joe smiled. He knew the Lord would be pleased with his initiative. About to contact Jesus, Joe had one last flash of brilliance, contacting a local company to completely landscape the yard. When the Master finally arrived, Joe smiled, asking, “Isn't it beautiful?” The Lord looked at him, sighed, shook His head, and said, “That's not trust.”

Can you imagine Jesus warming up the crowd with a few jokes before the Sermon on the Mount? Do you really see the apostles on the Day of Pentecost using a praise band to get the audience pumped before convicting them of crucifying the Christ? Can you really see one apostle or prophet surfing the internet during office hours, or attending the local meeting of the ministerial alliance? Can you see the early Christians, persecuted heavily because of their beliefs, gathering together for an exercise class? In fact, how many – if any – of our modern practices can be justified in Scripture?

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

What reason do we have for believing that the Lord will be proud of the congregations we have constructed? Is it because our buildings are so beautiful? How beautiful are the lives of those within? Will the amount of acreage we own make up for the lack of knowledge we possess or the lack of faith we display? Do we really believe that our improvements to the church are superior to what the Lord of all creation provided? Are we really so bold as to think that marketing experts know more about reaching the lost than the One who is King of kings and Lord of lords? The “Christian” church that is being presented to the world today is nothing like that found in the New Testament, yet our “Restoration” leaders smile, pat each other on the back, and say to Jesus, “Mission accomplished!”

“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). Jesus turns away, saddened by the vain attempts to supplant His eternal wisdom. He sighs, shakes His head, and says, “That's not trust.”

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