|Posted on January 6, 2021 at 10:35 AM|
I recently read that Americans have lost faith in our institutions. They don’t trust the various systems they once relied upon for their sense of security. They don’t trust the government at all levels. They don’t trust the media. They don’t trust the educational system. They don’t trust big corporations. They don’t trust their healthcare systems. They don’t trust law enforcement, etc., etc., etc. This lack of confidence in our institutions may be seen as a problem for many, but I tend to see it as a good start for believers. In order to exercise our faith in God, we have to quit trusting everything and everyone besides him.
For years I have known that the one thing that God wants from his people more than anything else is their faith in him. The writer of Hebrews makes it clear saying, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11: 6). By faith in God we are justified (declared righteous by God) and have peace, and by faith we have access into the grace of God that does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is our faith in God that gives us hope in this present world of darkness and allows us to love others despite our most desperate circumstances.
So what keeps us from trusting God? It’s the natural conditioning of this world we grew up in that teaches us to trust everything and everyone but God. From the time we are born into this world we learn to rely on everything and everyone other than God to satisfy our basic needs. Before we are old enough to develop an abstract concept of God, much less learn how he meets our needs, we naturally trust our caretakers and ourselves to satisfy both our physical and personal needs. Even when we are old enough to provide for our own physical needs we continue to trust our own performance, the approval of others, and our circumstances in life to determine our personal worth. Faith in our institutions is a natural extension of trusting everything and everyone other than God.
For Americans it is especially difficult to trust God to meet our needs when our wealth seems to be doing such a good job of it. Even the poorest American is rich compared to the rest of the world. It’s ironic that we print “In God We Trust” on our money when it’s really the money we are trusting. Despite having our physical needs met by our wealth our personal needs cannot be satisfied by physical things. One of the most shocking statements Jesus made occurred after he had miraculously fed the multitude to illustrate his ability to meet our needs. After announcing that he was the Bread of Life he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” (John 6: 53-56)
The graphic language used by Jesus was meant to break our obsession with trusting in physical things for our security and significance as persons and focus our attention on what he offers to all who will believe. “Eating his flesh and drinking his blood” describes how we trust him for all aspects of our lives. He is the only one who can meet both our physical and personal needs. The fact that we live in him and he in us, our union with him, is the basis for our personal security and importance in this world. No other person or institution can truly satisfy our needs.