Pulpitless Persuasions IV: God doesn’t trust us.
Trust – (Merriam-Webster definition): belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.; assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
People are often told of God’s love. People sing about it and scripture declares it. Over and over again in the Bible God demonstrated His faithfulness, His love and concern for his people. His supreme act of love and faithfulness was the giving of His Son as a substitute for the penalty for our sinfulness. It was this horrifyingly, shocking act that was paradoxically intended to demonstrate the extent of His desire for intimacy with His creation since the beginning of mankind.
The original man and woman entered into sinfulness at the garden in a poignant moment in the beginning of humanity. Their violation of God’s command would break God’s trust in humanity. From the verses above one can see how Jesus Himself was in a difficult situation. He was among those whom He didn’t trust. From this perspective it becomes interesting to consider how Jesus handled the people with whom Jesus surrounded Himself. One Bible version says, “He knew their nature…” The nature of lies and deceit. The nature of pride and conceit. I imagine it must have seemed completely repulsive to Him. It’s a curious thing to consider how He must have slept knowing what He knew about human nature. If God doesn’t trust the angels in heaven who are in His presence, as the verse in Job shows, why should he trust any human being given our current condition? He is God, he knows the thoughts, intents and devices of all men, and He doesn’t trust us.
It may seem ironic, but the fall of mankind at the beginning left human trust as a nebulous thing. Trust became a relative concept, because it depends wholly upon truth. God is truth, immutable and timeless, and God submitted a trust before the first couple regarding a tree in Eden and it was broken. Apart from Him there is uncertainty and vacillation, ambiguity and chaos. This, other than the presence of sin and evil, is as much an outcome of mankind’s transgression. Moreover, it destroyed mankind’s ability to trust one another. Wisdom, like trust, is one of those ambiguous human intangibles, difficult to measure. We seem to understand when someone or group of people has more or less of it, but then that is an estimation based upon our own judgments. The first couple traded truth for wisdom. Trust was lost. Apart from God, love and wisdom fell into ambiguity. For love to flourish there must be trust, and it’s at this point that we pose the question, “If God doesn’t trust us, then how does he love us?”
I have known people I thought to behave with honesty and fidelity, only to have them demonstrate dishonesty and falsity. When God gave the first couple the command not to eat of the tree and they did, a trust was broken. Everyone has known that at some point in their lives. Adultery is a particular offense in which the sacred trust of marriage is broken. One reaction to the breaking of trust is to distance oneself from the other party. Once a trust is broken it becomes difficult to restore. Trust has to be earned and over time reestablished.
In the scriptures, humanity repeatedly demonstrates its untrustworthy character. At one point in the history of mankind, God’s reaction to the loss of trust (Genesis 6:6) becomes keenly apparent. God made man for fellowship with Him, but throughout the Old Testament the details of mankind’s untoward affections give good reason why God wouldn’t trust mankind.
To add insult to injury, humanity shows its contempt for God by asking Him to prove himself (John 2:18, Luke 23:39, John 8:13, Matthew 26:68) when we are the ones who’ve broken trust. And as it was then, so it is today. A little C.S. Lewis at this point may be necessary to illustrate that it’s God Who has all the control and that we are simply to trust Him.
“I do not think there is a demonstrative proof (like Euclid) of Christianity, nor of the existence of matter, nor of the good will and honesty of my best and oldest friends. I think all three are (except perhaps the second) far more probable than the alternatives. The case for Christianity in general is well given by Chesterton…As to why God doesn’t make it demonstratively clear; are we sure that He is even interested in the kind of Theism which would be a compelled logical assent to a conclusive argument? Are we interested in it in personal matters? I demand from my friend trust in my good faith which is certain without demonstrative proof. It wouldn’t be confidence at all if he waited for rigorous proof. Hang it all, the very fairy-tales embody the truth. Othello believed in Desdemona’s innocence when it was proved: but that was too late. Lear believed in Cordelia’s love when it was proved: but that was too late. ‘His praise is lost who stays till all commend.’ The magnanimity, the generosity which will trust on a reasonable probability, is required of us.” – C.S. Lewis
God doesn’t need to prove anything. He simply insists upon trust because that is what was lost at the beginning, in the Garden. He is truth and love. So we return to the question, “If God doesn’t trust us, then how does he love us?” How is trust restored so that He may love again? The answer is in one word, “covenant”. He declares He doesn’t change, and there is no inconstancy in Him. Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand. – Proverbs 19:21 (NASB) says. Human integrity is a fragile thing. His establishment of His covenant in Christ Jesus stands as a testimony of God’s steadfast love in spite of broken trust:
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” – Jeremiah 31:31-34
The covenant of Christ does for God of what we are incapable. In all our changing, He stays unchangeable. In all our untrustworthiness, He stays trustworthy. The trust set before mankind at the beginning was, “…but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Then God the Father sends His Son as the Word to establish not a trust, but a covenant. It would be the covenant of Christ’s own blood. It heals the broken trust through the forgiveness of sin Christ paid for on the cross. No proofs, no conclusive mental assent, no compelling logical arguments are necessary. God wants mankind to trust His once established, firmly anchored, and eternally guaranteed covenant. In the final analysis, we trade back our wisdom for trust, truth and love and get them all.