On Wednesday night at Large Group, someone asked the following (great) question: “How do you trust Jesus?” I gave an answer, but I don’t think it was a very good one. As I was driving home, however, I thought of a much better answer to the question (sometimes that happens!). So, I thought I would write a short post about it.
When the Bible talks about trusting God/Jesus, it is not an ethereal, mystical concept only possible for the spiritual elite. Nor is it an action limited to one sector of our lives (the head, the heart, etc.). Rather, trusting God involves two fundamental activities. First, we treat what Jesus says as truth (the ultimate authority or ultimate reality). Whether it is His promises, His warnings, His commands, etc., we take Him more seriously than our feelings, our circumstances, or anything else in our lives anything else in our lives. The Bible talks about this activity as faith. The second activity is that we structure our lives according to what He says. The Bible talks about this second activity as repentance and obedience, depending on the occasion. There are lots of places in the Bible that describe trust in this way. Proverbs 3:5-6 encourages us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” God encourages us to believe Him and what He says about us more than what we see and know. Psalm 20:7 says that the name of the Lord is better and more worthy of our trust than horses and chariots. God invites us to look to Him, in the midst of the craziness of our lives and accept His understanding of reality more than ours.
That may sound great, but we naturally wonder, “What does that look like?” I’ll share two examples. First, Jesus says in Matthew 6:25ff, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink...” He goes on to say that God loves His people and will provide what we need. When I am tempted to worry, I often do so because I am not sure what the future will hold. I then think it is up to my effort and planning to master it so that I will be okay. When I am preparing to take a difficult test, then, trusting Jesus means I study hard and do my best to prepare. When the test is over, however, I do not worry because I know God will take care of me. It doesn’t mean that I did well on the test; in fact, I may have failed dramatically. Jesus hasn’t promised success in school, but He did promise His presence and His provision. I will be okay even if I fail. Trusting Jesus means that I believe what He said (“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.”) and that I act accordingly (“Don’t worry…If God clothes the grass of the field…will he not much more clothe you?”). It involves an valuing what God has said and letting it determine how I live my life.
But what happens when/if we do worry? This is the second example. What does trusting Jesus look like when we fail? For example, if I worry about how I did on my test or I worry about what my friend thinks of me after I had a hard conversation with them, what should I do? Trusting Jesus looks like believing what He said and acting accordingly. What does He say? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteous.” (1 John 1:9) It means that we are to believe that He really offers forgiveness of sins when we come to Him in faith and repent. Trusting Jesus means we look to Him as the One who provides the forgiveness we need instead of what I have or haven’t done. Because He has died in my place, trusting Him means that He has taken the penalty my sins deserve. I don’t have to worry about whether I have God’s love because He has promised forgiveness. Therefore, acting accordingly means that we confess our sins to God and/or to the other person. It means not beating ourselves up or continuing to dwell on what we have done.
As always, I would love to talk with you if you have more questions. Thank you for trusting me with your questions and struggles, it means a lot to me! I pray that you would find Jesus to be as trustworthy as He promises. He really is faithful and worth your trust.