Here’s a simple truth for you: God can be trusted! God is reliable, good, honest, and worthy of our trust!
In fact, the Bible is full of examples of God being trustworthy- of God following through with what He says He will do. Unfortunately, it’s also filled with stories of people not trusting God, and then having to deal with the reality of those choices.
Proverbs 3:5 tells us that we should, “Trust in the Lord with all [our] heart; don’t depend on [our] own understanding.” The writer goes on to remind us that, if we seek God’s will in all we do, then God will show us what path to take. Basically, the writer’s telling us to trust God. God has promised to work for our good in all things (Romans 8:28).
This past Sunday, we were blessed with the presence of the Reverend Sandra Douglas, a very passionate, in-your-face, wonderful deacon from our West Michigan Conference. Sandra brought to us a message that began our latest three-week mini-series on Conflict Resolution.
Sandra reminded us that we’re all created in the image of God; we all have that spark of the divine; we all have that remnant of God’s likeness. Now, as she also so bluntly stated, some of us are just hard to love! That is so true. And I will be the first to say that there are many times I am just downright unlovable. We all get that way- cranky, irritable, annoying, mean, and just plain nasty.
So how do we reconcile these two things: we are all created in God’s image, and many of us are hard to love? As Mark 12:28-34 commands, we are to love God and love our neighbor. We are to love God, and those who are His image bearers…even the hard to love ones.
Our culture teaches that the purpose of having a relationship, whether friendly or romantic, is mostly about my happiness and fulfillment. And when a relationship no longer serves me and my needs? Well, then, they become disposable. I don’t have to work at making them better. I have every right to sever ties and move on to my next conquest. But you see, God calls us to have relationships with more meaning than that. Scripture teaches that our relationships are to be more than commonplace- they are to be radical in their nature and purpose.
In our ever-enlightened, twenty-first century freedom-focused culture, most people hear the word accountability, and cringe. We don’t like having to be held accountable for things; we don’t like people looking at our actions and judging them; and we certainly don’t get excited about the idea of being held responsible for all the less-than-holy things we think, say, or do. Many assume accountability is a joke because of how easy it is to hide our thoughts, manipulate our words, and justify our actions. Heck, even the government isn’t accountable to anyone anymore…so why should I be? And to accept that our actions have consequences for which we are responsible? That’s un-American!
The notion that God wants me to be rich, happy, and successful is a pretty nice thought, huh? It’s nice to think that God has my best interests at heart- that He wants to hear from me what I want and will more than happily give it to me…as long as I believe enough, and as long as I give enough of my time, energy, and money.
You see though, this notion, however appealing, is not biblical! Nowhere in Jesus’ teachings do we hear that God desires us to have the life we dream of, with the fantastic house, the latest greatest car, or the fattest wallet...
There are times that life just seems to give us way more than we can handle, and we feel like, if one more bad thing happens, we are just going to fall apart. I know I’m not alone in having those moments when I just wrap my arms around myself, crying so hard I can barely breathe, in so much pain and agony with life situations I can’t stand it anymore. And I’ve tried to believe that God would never give me more than I could handle. But time and time again, life proves too much for me.
We’ve reached the end of our first series in our Year of Discipleship. We’ve looked at four foundational concepts necessary for all disciples to understand: Grace, Commitment, Humility, and now, Piety. And it was very fitting that Piety would be our last topic in this series, because it actually serves as the culmination of the other topics.
The dictionary defines piety as a quality of being religious or reverent. And we are pious when we exhibit holiness and strive to be Christ-like. Basically speaking, piety is living out what you believe. It’s the culmination of God’s work of grace, and your commitment to Him, and it’s your humility in action! Piety is about making your faith real and evident in your life and through all your actions.
I had a lot of conversations with people lately, and read a lot of articles and blog posts, about this topic of humility. In trying to figure out what it means, what it looks like, I’ve been struck by just how easy it is to forget that humility is more than just an idea, more than just a topic we talk about- it’s a calling.
Humility is defined this way: an attitude of lowliness an obedience to God, grounded in the recognition of one’s status before God, fully acknowledging absolute dependence upon God. That’s a mouthful. But when you break it down, true humility is seeing through God’s eye, not our own. It’s understanding that God is greater than I am, and that others are just as valuable to God as I am, no matter who they are or what they’ve done! That’s what we see in the way Jesus lived and died (Philippians 2:6-11).
Cori Cypret is the pastor of The United Methodist Church of Coopersville.