I have an admission to make, when Dave was preaching on Sunday how we as a society are pretty terrible at the concept of trust, it seemed to be he was preaching directly at me (if you haven’t gotten the chance to watch the sermon, you can find it here, beginning at 28:00). He said there are times we all get bitter and cynical, but he could have easily been saying, “there are times when Will is not bitter and cynical, but those times are few and far between.”
Maybe it’s because I have a dry sense of humor. Maybe it’s because I’ve had some disappointment in my life. Maybe it’s because I came into adulthood during the Great Recession of 2008. Who knows why, but I find it easy to slip into a path toward cynicism which is typified by distrusting those around me.
This cynicism and distrust are a poison to the possibility of forming and continuing relationships with the people Jesus called my neighbors. What is more is there is the argument that my cynicism towards people continues towards my relationship with God. How I view and interact with people, both strangers and those I know, mirrors my relationship with the Divine. If I cannot trust those around me, how can I trust God?
Maybe when it really comes down to it, the problem with trusting is more about control. We cannot control other people so we cannot trust them. We cannot make them do what we want, so we cannot trust them to do the right thing.
It reminds me of a thought Fredrich Buechner had in his book Telling Secrets, “Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you—your children’s lives, the lives of your husband, your wife, your friends—because that is just what you are powerless to do. Remember that the lives of other people are not your business. They are their business. They are God’s business because they all have God whether they use the word God or not. Even your own life is not your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought. ”
Trusting others is in a way trusting God to work through their lives. It is two sides of the same coin. When we come to realize that notion, we are freed from our prisons of bitterness and cynicism.
Thanks be to God.