Monday, 24 October 2011

What is trust?

Hello friends,

I wanted to take a  bit of time to look at the subject of trust.

Wikipedia describes trust as:


Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
Believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of.
noun.  confidence - faith - credit - reliance - belief
verb.  believe - confide - rely - credit - hope

Over recent years I have observed how trust can be built and fostered in many different situations and environments, but reversely I have also seen the negative effects of how trust can be eroded, damaged and sometimes even lost completely.

I wanted to raise four questions that I feel are massively important for us as Christians and as a Church in moving forward in this next season...

1.  Do we trust ourselves?

I have seen many times the negative effect that a lack of self-belief can have on the individual.  If you multiply that amongst a community of people, or perhaps even just a small section of them, you can imagine the negative impact that would have in trying to build any sense of inertia or momentum in pressing on to all that God has called that person, or the community into.

It's my firm belief that God has gifted each person to be an integral and fully functioning part of His body.  What that looks like would be unique to each one, but basically it means everyone has a place, a purpose and a destiny in the household of God.  Even those that at present are outside of the family of God because they haven't received Christ as their Lord and their Saviour, they have a specific and unique calling to fulfil the purposes of God in their life through entering into a life giving and world changing relationship with their Heavenly Father.

I've also seen how some people can be deceived by their own minds as to the sin in their own lives.  It says in the bible that our conscience's can become seared (1 Tim 4:2) through repeated patterns of sin and that we end up not being able to see or discern the negative things that we carry around that would prevent us from building firm, deep, solid and authentic Kingdom relationships with other people.  It's hard to build any sense of trust when people are deceived or blinded as they can then become an ideal tool of disharmony or mistrust in a Gospel community.  The enemy loves these sorts of situations!

As we look to Christ, spend time in the presence of the Holy Spirit and receive instruction from the Father we begin to understand more and more who we are, who we were designed and called to be.

The world for too long has tried to convince us that we are nobodies, a number in and amongst billions of others and that we are insignificant and that the problems around us in our families, our streets, our communities, our nation and the world are just too numerous and varied for us to make any meaningful impact.

God breaks that off as a lie of the enemy and it has no place in your thinking!

Look to Christ, He has uniquely called and gifted you to be a world changer, to be the sort of person that effects change and brings life in every dark situation.  To be a conduit of hope and love to a lost and broken world.

You are a representative of the Kingdom of Heaven, a regent, an ambassador, a co-heir with Christ.

You truly can trust in yourself today if you know Christ and you are open and obedient with other brothers and sisters, if you are accountable and teachable, because through His Spirit, the instruction of others, through the power of His word He is transforming you, day by day to be more like Him, and if you can't trust in the work of Christ, then who can you trust!

2.  Do we trust in each other?

The community, or household/family of God is described in an awesome way in Acts 2:42-47:

 42And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day,attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their foodwith glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

This seems like a community that was full of trust.  People were open handed, selling their possessions to provide for the poor and the needy, they opened their lives and their homes with one another to share meals and join with one another in a deep and intimate fellowship where there was quite clearly an authentic and heartfelt community of love and trust that was open to everyone to enter into and be a part of.

Many churches have a great sense of community within the walls of their buildings, or in the midst of their meetings, but sadly churches struggle to authentically replicate or receive this Spirit led life giving dynamic that reaches out to the lost and the broken in their surrounding communities.

I think this is partly down to trust.  Where there is trust there is life.  There is freedom to release people to be all that they can be, no restrictions, no limitations, but a release with encouragement and equipping that helps people walk into their calling, their destiny, as a unique part of the body of Christ, with each one finding their own place and purpose, yet not operating outside of the body but always staying connected and in healthy Gospel relationships with others in the body.

So it's clear that trust is a key element in a healthy Gospel community.

Lack of trust can be caused by so many things:  Hypocrisy, inauthenticity, immaturity, spiritual blindness, lack of self-control, past hurt, poor communication... (I'm sure you can think of many more!) 

We have got to be those that are quick to confront, quick to forgive, quick to equip and also have faith to release, but know that God is in control and we are called to bring Him glory, not to glorify ourselves.

I believe that as we all individually see and acknowledge Christ as the highest and most lifted up thing in our lives that other people will look on, they will see the life that this relationship and obedience to Christ brings and they will want in.  They will begin to trust, they will begin to listen, to follow, to want to know the source of this new you, this you that has been liberated and set free from the oppression and unhelpful habits that so easily hinder any sense of   authentic Gospel life being displayed in a meaningful way.  They will want to know Christ and your transformed life will be the personal invitation.

3.  Do we trust our leaders?
If you have read a bit of the Bible you should be aware that God has a tendency of raising and releasing leaders.
These leaders are never normally special people, in fact they are mostly just average people, people that have gone through life like everybody else and then God shows up, sets them apart and starts to display His nature and character through these people so that they can lead and speak hope and life to others.

In the Old testament there were many leaders, tall ones, short ones, ones that got angry, ones that felt insignificant, ones that couldn't communicate well, others that were very young, very old, some from humble settings, some from more regal, some that were imprisoned, some that were captured, some were tortured, some were held in high regard, some were he'd in no regard, some were faithful, some were unfaithful - But God chose them and used them all.

In the New Testament we see Gods heart in collecting a band of 12 very different men:  fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot and others.

This band of guys were all very different but Jesus used His time with the disciples to raise leaders, all with their own style, edge, gifting and flavour, but he raised them and taught them and released them when the time was right.

We then see the disciples develop into apostles - They then plant churches and raise and release elders to govern and lead local churches.  The apostolic gift raises and father leaders and motivates mission (see Dave Devenish's excellent book on this very subject) and it works in partnership with local elders to help local churches to grow and flourish.

In our local context as a Newfrontiers church in Medway we have local elders and leaders in our church.  We trust this team of brothers to lead us, to make effective decisions, to weigh up every eventuality in a time of crisis and to find the best way forward before God.

We are all called to be leaders, we are all called to be those that influence the world around us, but the elders in particular have a unique calling as they are called to be shepherds of Gods people.  God has entrusted them with His flock and it states in Hebrew 13:17 that one day they will have to give an account before God as to the way they looked after the people that God had entrusted to them.

 17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

But we are also encouraged to obey our leaders, that we are to trust their sound judgement, and that we are to make our leaders life a joy! (where possible)

I can think of many situations and times when things could have been made a joy but instead it caused a sense of groaning.  When people rebel or have an unhealthy or unhelpful outlook on life this can exacerbate a situation.  This is often caused by a root of a lack of trust.

We have to work hard to know our leaders, to trust our leaders and to ensure that if we hear people discrediting and undermining the authority that God has placed on their shoulders that we are quick to defend and bring equilibrium where appropriate.

In saying this I am aware that there are many leaders that are like wolves amongst the sheep that God has given them.  Leaders should never be above criticism and as a leader myself I am always trying to live in a transparent and visible way, I make every effort to stay in accountable relationships with eaters both locally and outside of our local setting and am always encouraging people to come along side me and correct me, to rebuke me where necessary.

Leaders are never called to be overbearing but called to serve, to release and to encourage the flock to be healthy, well fed and instructed in the word and the ways of God.  As under-shepherds to the great High Shepherd they should look to Jesus for the way to lead.

I want to encourage you to trust your leaders.  Theirs is a heavy burden and where possible we should trust them, get behind them or alongside them and give them every encouragement and help in releasing them into all that God has called them to be so that they can set the pace and
the direction to the glory of God.

4.  Do we trust God?
For me fundamentally this is where it all hinges - Do we trust God?

I have seen countless numbers of friends hit hard in a crisis to the point where some have abandoned their faith, sometimes because of grief, sometimes because of a loss of hope, sometimes because they feel let down.

Sometimes it's not until a tree is shaken by a hard wind that you find out it's roots were only shallow and then the tree falls over.

Can I encourage you to trust God?  To go to Him with your worries and your concerns, to pour your heart out to Him rather than trying to figure everything out and get it al in a neat little box so you can understand the things that happen around you.

I love the exaltation that is given in Phillipians 4:4-7

 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 There is a peace that surpasses all understanding - Think about that...

For you to receive that peace you have to give up your right to understand why the situation is where it is and trust in God, trust in His sovereign nature, trust that He is in control and will work it all out for good.

In saying that I am not at all implying that to be a Christian you have to disengage your brain and just believe everything, but trusting, or having faith in God is a different affair than just believing any old thing (gullibility).

We have much to trust and thank God for, we can look to the promises in His word, we can look to the common and specific grace that He pours into all of our lives and we can look to the death and resurrection of Christ and what that means for us in restoring us to a perfect and eternal relationship with the Father - We can trust Him!

The following point is borrowed from Matt Slick on the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry website...

Furthermore to that Jesus said,
  • Come to Me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28).
  • "I am with you always, even to the ends of the earth" (Matt. 28:20).
  • He said that His words will not pass away (Mark 13:31).
  • He said that He would raise you up on the last day (John 6:40).
  • He said that whatever you asked in His name would be give to you. (John 14:14).
  • He said He would disclose Himself to you (John 14:21).
  • He said that He would reveal the Father to you (Matt. 11:27)
  • And He said He would return in the clouds and that every eye will see Him (Mark 13:27).
Because of who God is and what He has already done for you, you can trust Him even more for the future and have no fear that He will continue to uphold you, love you, and continue His wonderful loving plan in your life.
Will you trust Him?  How much will you trust Him?  How much will you rest in Him?
Its up to you.

Be encouraged!

Gordon Watson

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