Monday, March 9, 2009

A Failure of Trust

The news stories about the current financial crisis suggest that part of the problem is a failure of trust. The world of credit is built on trust. Letters of Credit, Loans and Mortgages are all built on a trust relationship. On the most basic level the bank says to the borrower “I trust you to pay me back”. And then some manipulated that trust, preyed on others and distorted that system of trust. And the system broke.

I worry that trust is getting harder and harder to come by in our world. And a lack of trust in society has deep consequences. Trust is a relationship word. It is a basic building block of relationships between individuals and communities of people.

Trust is at the heart of who we are as followers of Jesus. In the Bible “Faith” is a word that in almost every case would be better translated as “trust.” The word “faith” is often used to designate a set of beliefs, as in “What faith are you?” It suggests something set and static. Our set of beliefs is important, but faith is something we do, not something we are. That’s why the word “trust” is better. It carries with it the idea that we are acting on that faith. Trust is how we live out our faith.

As followers of Jesus I believe we are called to help a broken world relearn how to trust. Trust is a relationship word and a community word. It goes against the grain in a culture that is so focused on individual happiness and personal self-realization.

Psalm 37 touches on the question of how to live in a world that is broken, where those who do wrong seem to get rewarded while those who do good are forgotten. Trust is the answer:

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret--it leads only to evil.

Psalm 37:3-8 (NIV)

“I do trust. Help me get past my inability to trust.” Mark 9:24


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