Saturday, June 09, 2007

Distrusting God

I am a distrustful person.

I try not to let people catch on to this cynical trait that lurks within me, lest I offend their sensibilities. I'm not mean or rude about it, but you can be sure I am secretly evaluating your trustworthiness as a person, especially if you have some sort of control or influence in my life. You're going to interact with my kids? Evaluation mode kicks into high gear. I'm going to join your church? Not until I have attended for many months and seen it from the inside out. You have a great investment opportunity for me? Let's see what Google has to say about you and your company.

Being suspicious has served me well at times. We live in a messed-up world in which people will shake your hand, reassure you, and blatantly lie to your face. A little distrust can go a long way in avoiding the most obvious charlatans.

Secretly, I wish I was a little less apprehensive about people and their motives. It's not easy always looking for the chink in the armor of others, especially if you find it. I would rather be suspicious and discover I am wrong, having to throw out my cynicism, than actually be right.

While discussing this with a friend, I remarked how innocent she was. She was kind, open, and gentle in her heart, seemingly non-judgemental about things. I meant it as a compliment, tinged with longing to possess some of those qualities. She took it as an insult. She didn't express her annoyance in any outward way, but the long hesitation, and the halting tone in her voice as she asked me what I meant, was clue enough. She had taken my description of innocence and trust as meaning simple and unsophisticated.

The suspicion that serves me so well in the everyday world does nothing for my spiritual life. In fact, it is antithetical to true faith in God.

In our earthly realm, we have good reason to mistrust our fellow wanderers. People can be a miserable lot; weak, selfish, and disloyal. Sifting through my own motivations has often exposed things I would rather bury under the sandy soil, hoping they would stay there like some forgotten pirate's treasure. It's disconcerting to realize that not only is the rest of the world off-kilter, but so are you.

Born into this crooked, impure world, we struggle with our hidden disability, a crippling skepticism about the goodness of others. Without intent, we are spiritually hindered by our handicap when approaching God. It seems, that after expressing belief in the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus, that we should be able to trust God as having only good things in store for us. Yet, over and over again some us go back to the well of wondering about his motivations. Does He really care about me, as an individual, and not as some tiny cog in the great churning machine of life? Does the evil that proliferates here on this planet bother Him? Why doesn't He do something about it already? We give more weight to the things before our eyes than to the character of our Creator.

It is Eve's first sin. Disbelief and distrust of what God said and of His very character.

You can't have faith and trust in a dubious God. Not only is it insulting to Him, but it is counterproductive to our spiritual life. Many sins and traps along our path begin with false beliefs about the nature of God. Thinking Him vindictive produces fear. Thinking Him uncaring produces apathy. Thinking Him ineffective and weak produces doubt.

Hebrews 11:6

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."

We are to believe not merely in His existence, but in His goodness. We must believe that He isn't a con man selling us a little snake oil, marketed as the Balm of Gilead, sure to cure our aches and pains for only $19.95. Assenting to His existence is great, but without belief in his goodness the company we keep is less than desirable:

James 2:19

You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.

It's hard sometimes, isn't it? When things go awry and we're scraping through our emotions to find the faith that can so easily flit away from our grasp, trusting in God's ultimate goodness and purity can seem daunting. However, it is at these moments that we need to align our thinking to the reliability and unchanging nature of God. He is good. Always. In every way. At every time. Without fail.

Chuck your suspicion and mistrust at the door. He really isn't out to get you.

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