2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Daniel 3:17 NIV “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
There are many programs this time of year for giving gifts to strangers. You buy something, wrap it, deliver it to a depot and someone gives your gift to a stranger in need.
What if we do that in the spiritual realm?
There are a lot of people out there who are blinded by the god of this age. Some are blinded from seeing Jesus as their Savior. Many more are blinded in specific facets of their lives.
One of the biggest challenges is when we know something to be very true because the Word says it, but our emotions are on a different page. Trust is probably the biggest example of that. We have all sorts of platitudes about how dependable and trustworthy God is, both because of His power and His love for us, but at the end of the day, our emotions fail to respond with trust for a thousand reasons.
However, when we do absolutely trust God, there is a potential for transformation in the Kingdom of God that is incredible.
My high water mark is Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They knew that God COULD rescue them, but they had no guarantee that He WOULD, yet they were confident that whether they lived or died, it was going to be OK.
Serious trust. Not your average, garden variety, American Christian kind of trust.
Let’s make a clear distinction here between trust and risk. Trust is a settled emotion. Whether it is valid or not, it is an emotion that flows. Risk is a choice we make with our will to override our emotions and do something that we really don’t want to.
Let me illustrate the difference. I do not trust roller coasters. My mind can scroll through all of the very evident safety equipment and the record of hundreds of thousands of people who have ridden them without casualties, but the data flow makes no impact on my emotions. My emotions scream a refusal to believe they are safe.
Now, in the unlikely event that I had vast quantities of discretionary adrenaline to burn through frivolously, I could choose to force myself to ride a roller coaster. My will could overrule my emotions. That is risk. It is not trust.
On the other hand, I trust airplanes. Occasionally I ponder briefly (with my mind) the amazing miracle of a Boeing 777 loaded with all the fuel for a transatlantic flight, and all the baggage and passengers, effortlessly lifting off, with just two engines.
While my mind can’t really wrap convincing thoughts around such a technological feat, my emotions are completely at peace with the process. That is trust.
In the same way, God intends our relationship with Him to be defined by trust, not white knuckle risk taking, or cowardly risk-abatement lifestyle choices.
Tragically, all of us still have large pockets of distrust of God in our emotional database.
So what to do?
In human relationships, it is the other guy’s job to earn trust. It is not my job to give trust.
I can give forgiveness and release a wound and an offense, but he or she has to earn my trust. My only responsibility is to allow them an opportunity to earn that trust back. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t.
Several decades ago, someone tried to break up my marriage. I became angry at the lady when I saw the game and I cut her off completely. She was to have no access to my family, directly or through mutual acquaintances.
Today I have no idea what she is like. She might be an amazing, walking-tall, spiritual giant with a ministry to broken marriages and more virtue than I can even imagine. I have no idea. And since I cut her out of my life, there is no opportunity for her to regain my trust.
By contrast, this year I voluntarily re-entered the circles of three people who have hurt me badly. I had long ago forgiven them, but had no idea whether they had changed and were safe to walk with.
The net result of the contacts was a mixed report. One guy clearly is more toxic than when I last walked with him. My distrust was deepened by his current behavior.
One lady was neutral. In the contact we had, she neither increased nor decreased my trust of her.
And a third person showed a partial trustworthiness and a partial untrustworthiness. In some areas there has clearly been a big positive change. In other areas, there has been a small change for the worse.
This is the reality of trust. I can and do forgive easily and in most cases leave the door open for the other person to earn trust in the areas where they have proven themselves untrustworthy. However, earning trust is always the other person’s job.
I can and do risk a lot of partnerships with people who I only trust a small amount. That is an act of my will. But for me to trust someone, they have to build that sense of trust in me through their behavior over time.
Forgiveness is given. Trust is earned.
Risk is a function of the will. Trust is a function of your emotions.
Now, let’s really muddy the waters with a generic illustration: adultery.
One spouse cheats and is found out. Trust is shattered. The one spouse forgives and gives the cheater an opportunity to earn trust again.
What happens if the repentant cheater plays his/her heart out and five years later, there is no trust restored because the offended spouse can’t “see” the trustworthy actions, only the betrayal?
That is the devil’s ultimate triumph – freeze framing emotions at the point of pain, precluding any sort of redemption.
And this is what he does to men and women who do not trust God. At the end of the day, God is endlessly busy being trustworthy in our lives. There was never any betrayal by Him. It is only our limited grids and swift judgment that causes us to be offended by God because we don’t understand His bigger frame for our lives.
God knows that and He counters our pathetic misperception of Him with endless acts of highly visible love, kindness, care and protection, designed to strengthen our emotional trust in Him.
And the devil frenetically works to block us from seeing those things, keeping us focused on the pain, so we do not grow in trust and therefore we have to walk in White Knuckle Christianity instead – taking risks based on our will, not walking in peace, based on trust.
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
So, let’s war against the god of this age and his blindness strategy. God has already widely revealed Himself as the trustworthy God, but the light of His gospel does not arrive to every heart, or in every corner of every heart.
And instead of pursuing more good things for us and ours, let’s give a gift to a stranger. Ask God to identify someone who He really wants to see break through the blindness into the light of trusting God. This would be someone you don’t know at all – only God knows where in the world they are and what their blindness battle looks like.
Then invest time daily from now to the end of the year, warring against the blindness and the blinder, so that one person can come into a place of light and trust of God during this season, because of your gift to a stranger.
Most of you reading this have some level of prayer support by believers who know you and love you. Imagine God’s delight in giving the gift of your prayer assault to someone in extreme isolation who thinks no one in the world cares about them and their pain.
It will be so much fun in eternity to explore the archives and see who God delivered your gift of warfare prayers to and what impact they made in the world as a result of their huge lurch forward in trust.
Copyright December 2014 by Arthur Burk
From the Hub