Trust: Who Has Yours?
By Mitch Fossum
Trust is a difficult thing to quantify. It’s an emotion and it’s an understanding. It requires something of the giver, but is ultimately tied up in the identity of the receiver, the trustee. It takes time to build, yet can be torn down in a moment. At the end of the day, every relationship is built on trust, or the lack thereof.
Trust is also experiential. The more that we encounter another person in and among the daily grind of real life, the more we know them. Take the military deployed life, for example (the kind of life which is most real to me at the moment). I literally see the same guys day in and day out. I eat with, talk with, walk with, read with, pray with, laugh with, work with, and literally share everything with these guys 24/7. When we go out on missions, we get radio contact with some of the same forward-located ground controllers and see the same airborne tankers. As we fly two-aircraft formations among imminent dangers and uncertainties, you build a sort of mutual understanding and confidence in that other guy in your aircraft, and then in those two over there watching your back. We would be absolutely crippled as a group were it not for the mutual trust which has been, and is increasingly being, built into these relationships. People know one other through doing. Trust is experiential.
This truth doesn’t diminish at home for us in Suffolk, in fact it undergirds the entire civil society which we have inherited. You wake up in the morning and trust that the weather will be close to what the radio forecaster relays. You jump in the family car and trust that the manufacturer and subsequent inspectors did their job well and with integrity. You maneuver in and around traffic within the mutual understandings which you share with those drivers all around you of what rules are to be followed. You send your children—those little people for which you are responsible—off to a school in which their teachers will dole out guidance and administer correction under your implicit authority. You work, you learn, you recreate, all within layer upon layer of unspoken trust between you and other people. Your entire life and everything you know and see is built on trust.
Knowing these truths, I’d like to offer a suggestion which turns this rambling conversation into something that matters—and it is the following dual-natured principles.
First, the degree to which you can trust another person is equivalent to the degree in which they themselves are worthy. And second, you define “worthy.” It’s a bar, a standard, that you get to choose.
How does this work in the Christian walk? Well just as these trust principles play out every single day in the world that we can see, your religious life is fundamentally based upon determining who is worthy of answering life’s most consequential questions, and then placing your trust accordingly. Where did I come from and who is the creator? Has he made himself known? Am I someone who has been counted with him? Am I his, or am I a rebel? What’s next for me and this world, what of my future in view of eternity?
To trust another person with the answers to these questions, that person must be tremendously, eminently worthy, according to our first principle. And, according to our second principle, you, personally, must settle on how high that bar of worthiness must be.
In John chapter 17, the disciple whom Jesus loved is witness to a prayer between Jesus and God the Father the very night of the Jesus’ betrayal. As we listen alongside the disciples, it’s abundantly clear that we’ve stumbled upon a virtual goldmine of theology and understanding related to these two trust principles. If we define one who is worthy as the one who merits receiving your trust, we must realize that our deepest spiritual questions require an incredibly authoritative answerer. If we’re contemplating our origin, and identity, and destination in light of eternity—which intellectual honesty demands that we must—then nothing and no one short of God himself is worthy of directing our thoughts. If God himself has been revealed, then, and only then, has that worthiness standard been met.
“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” – John 17:1-5
Friends, God himself has spoken.
The one who is coeternal and coequal with God the Father came here to walk among us, glorify the Father, and make him known. The standard of worthiness has been met in Jesus Christ; who is trustworthy because of his identity. Oh that we would raise the bar and ask the right questions, experientially place our trust in Christ day by day in the real-life matters, and make him known to our neighbors and to the ends of the earth.