In Jesus We Trust

Everyone knows our currency states who our country’s trust is supposedly in but I prefer to be more specific about which God (there’s at least one for every religion, you understand) I trust in. I trust Jesus for He’s the true God. He’s the recipient of all my faith and hope. Brennan Manning wrote, “Faith arises from the personal experience of Jesus as Lord. Hope is the reliance on the promise of Jesus, accompanied by the expectation of fulfillment. Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.” Even before any of the Lord’s disciples got to know Him as their personal Savior they dropped everything and followed Him because their initial, overwhelming impression of Jesus was He was a man who was undeniably trustworthy. That admirable trait so saturated Christ’s demeanor it radiated from Him like a tangible, shimmering aura. Even folks who’d never met Him believed He could be trusted. The Bible records that an unnamed Roman centurion (a noncommissioned officer in charge of 100 soldiers) who’d only heard of Jesus believed He had divine powers and was anything but ordinary. He sent some Jewish elders to plea with our Lord to heal his slave. Jesus obliged and headed that way. “…When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I’m not worthy to have you come under my roof. That’s why I did not presume to come to you. Instead, say the word and my servant must be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me. I say to this one, “Go,” and he goes, and to another, “Come,” and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this,” and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him. He turned and said to the crowd that followed him, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith!’ So when those who’d been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well (Luke 7:6-10).   No doubt the Roman officer risked ridicule from his troops or a harsh reprimand from his superiors but it didn’t keep him from relying on Christ to come through. Faith combined with hope equals trust.

Another who put his livelihood on the line by trusting in Jesus was a royal official employed by one of the bigwigs who despised the Nazarene, Herod. But the nobleman’s son was dying so he approached Jesus and begged Him to heal his boy. At first the Lord, knowing who the man answered to, wasn’t convinced the official was sincere, saying aloud, “…Unless you people see signs and wonders you will never believe! But his stinging words didn’t deter the man at all. He was desperate. ’Sir,’ the official said to him, ‘come down before my child dies.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go home; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and set off for home. While he was on his way down, his slaves met him and told him his son was going to live. So he asked them the time when his condition began to improve, and they told him, ‘Yesterday at one o’ clock in the afternoon the fever left him. Then the father realized it was the very time Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live,’ and he himself believed along with his entire household (John 4:47-53).

In yet another instance a regular Joe brought before Christ his son, a boy cruelly possessed by a sadistic demon who’d tortured him mercilessly for years on end. The disciples had tried to exorcise the nasty imp out of the poor kid but they’d failed. When Jesus showed up the father said to Him, If you are able to do anything, have compassion on us and help us. Then Jesus said to him, ‘If you are able? All things are possible for the one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” (Mark 9:22-24). With a curt command Christ forced the evil spirit to leave and never return. The stubborn demon screamed in an outburst of defiant anger yet it had no choice but to obey the King of kings. The boy’s father’s faith was the size of a mustard seed but it was more than enough for Jesus.

It’s imperative we fully trust that Christ was who He said He was – the eternal Son of I AM. A “maybe, maybe not” faith won’t cut it. In the secular world knowledge is considered an intellectually-based grasp of commonly-perceived reality. But in the Hebrew/Christian scriptures knowledge is felt, confirmed by a personal encounter with God and His gift of spiritual faith rather than from human investigation. In other words, authentic knowledge is gained only by acceptance of the deity of Christ. And nothing less than a one-on-one, exclusive experience with the risen, glorified Spirit of Jesus can open one’s eyes to the scriptural revelations of truth. Dutch theologian Edward Schillebeeckx wrote, “Christianity is not a message which has to be believed, but an experience of faith that becomes a message.” The search for God always leads to Jesus because He alone personifies what the Heavenly Father is like. He said so Himself. Thus He’s either the truth, the way and the life or He’s a shameless liar. You must decide. It stands to reason, though, if He is the Son of God then He’s also the sole source of information about the mysterious nature of the Holy Trinity. Albert Nolan said, “We cannot deduce anything about Jesus from what we think we know about God; however, we must deduce everything we know about God from what we know about Jesus.” Jesus wasn’t running for president. He wasn’t concerned with building trust by making “feel good” statements so people would form a favorable opinion of Him. His mission was not only to atone for our sins on the cross once and for all but to set the record straight about our wildly mistaken ideas about God. He wasn’t trying to get His numbers up in the polls when he stated clearly, The person who has seen me has seen the Father! (John 14:9). He was telling the whole world the unflinching truth.

The more I read God’s Holy Word the more I trust Jesus. That’s not to say I completely understand Him because to make that claim I’d be foolishly discounting His unique, awe-inspiring Otherness. I’d never bestow upon a mere human being the title of, My Lord and my God! (John 20:28). That designation is reserved for Jesus Christ. My trust in Him is unbreakable. As Manning wrote, “For me and many others, Jesus is the revelation of the only God worthy of trust.” The Bible, from beginning to end, has convinced me that my encounters with Christ in both the human and spiritual dimensions were (and are) as real as this chair I’m sitting in. Yet it’s not because I’m special. Heavens no! Embracing/savoring the sublime moment when one acknowledges and surrenders to Christ’s Lordship is in no way reserved for an elite few. It’s generously granted to CEOs and the unemployed, to billionaires and the minimum wage-earner, the university professor and the high-school dropout. Jesus will reveal Himself to anybody who seriously and sincerely seeks God. No exceptions. Plus, everyone’s individual encounter with the Savior is unparalleled, unique. It’s not akin to having your name announced, walking across a stage, receiving a limp handshake and a standard-issue diploma. Far from it. Meeting Christ will stand out as the most incredibly personal experience of your life.

John McKenzie wrote, “The basic element seems to be recognition. We recognize that the person whom we have encountered speaks to our innermost being, supplies our needs, satisfies our desires. We recognize that this person gives life meaning. I do not say a new meaning, but meaning simply, for we realize that before we encountered this person life had no real meaning. We recognize that this person has revealed to us not only Himself but our own true self as well. We recognize we cannot be our own true self except by union with this person. In Him the obscure is illuminated, the uncertain yields to the certain, insecurity is replaced by a deep sense of security. In Him we find we’ve achieved an understanding of many things which baffled us. We recognize in His person strength and power which we can sense passing from Him to us. Most certainly if most obscurely, we recognize that in this person we have encountered God; and that we shall not encounter God in any other way.” This intimate, unforgettable occurrence in one’s life makes prayers and pronouncements uttered by the Lord like the one found in John 17:3, Now this is eternal life – that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorify you on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory I had with you before the world was created as dependable as the daily sunrise and sunset. At last the phrase, “I know that I know that I know” makes perfect sense. Trust is no longer just a noun. It’s your lifeboat.

If someone were to ask me, “What in this life is absolutely, positively certain?” I wouldn’t hesitate to answer with, “The love of Christ.” I wouldn’t be able to say that about my wife, my closest family members or my dearest friends because they’re human, imperfect and fallible. I definitely wouldn’t say it about the accuracy of the various sciences, the insights of philosophy or the potential positive/negative consequences of technological innovations. The only thing I can bank on 100% without reservation is the love Jesus has for me. And, lest I forget, the cross He suffered and died on serves as a constant reminder of how deep His love runs. Unconditional love always fosters unshakable trust. Manning wrote, “Our trust in Jesus grows as we shift from making self-conscious efforts to be good to allowing ourselves to be loved as we are (not as we should be).” The more we trust that God has our best interests at heart the more relaxed in His presence we are and, therefore, more receptive to letting Him lead us. We become less full of ourselves, allowing room for the Holy Spirit (whom Christ sent to live inside us) to infiltrate and affect every molecule in our body. In the words of the Apostle Paul, as translated by Eugene Peterson, We are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The bottom line is this: If I can’t trust the Son of God Almighty then trust itself is nothing more than an illusion. Since Jesus is the light of the world and the visible manifestation of the infinite glory of the Creator, I’d be a buffoon not to put all my trust in Him. The twelve disciples weren’t gullible morons. They were hard-working, practical men. None had a history of suddenly abandoning their trade duties and family responsibilities to run off on wild goose chases. Yet they knew and trusted in their heart of hearts that Jesus was what the world had been waiting for. Any lingering doubts they may have harbored were vanquished the second the Master turned well water into sweet wine in Cana. John 2:11 states, In this way he revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.”

One can’t read the testimonies of the New Testament authors and not be impressed by their unabashed astonishment concerning Jesus and what He was able to do. If even once He’d betrayed their trust they would’ve written Him off as a two-faced phony in a heartbeat. But He never let them down and that’s why they never shied away from repeatedly magnifying Him in their writings. They were absolutely convinced of His perfection. John’s Gospel ends with, This is the disciple who testifies about these things and has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. There are many other things that Jesus did. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written (21:24-25). He’s basically saying, “Y’all don’t know the half of it!” So why did they feel so compelled to go on and on bragging about Jesus? Because they knew if they failed to convey to their readers that Christ was indeed God Almighty incarnate in the flesh the comforting, reassuring faith and hope that only rock-solid trust can instill in a person would be too weak to withstand the storms of life that inevitably come. Still, they knew better than to promise believers a rose garden. Jesus didn’t mince words when He said, In the world you’ll have trouble and suffering…” (John 16:33). But He also promised to be with every believer every difficult step of the way. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). A faithful follower of Jesus Christ doesn’t maintain unswerving faith in their Lord and Savior because He vowed to prevent tragedies, disease and injustices from crashing down on them or their loved ones. They cling to their faith despite the inevitable setbacks and disappointments because He who promised forgiveness of all sins and everlasting life has proved Himself trustworthy.

There’s a story of a family staying in a friend’s lake house while on vacation. One day their four-year-old wandered away from his siblings down to the boat dock. His Dad looked up just in time to see the youngster fall into the dark water. He ran and jumped in to save his son. Twice he ran out of breath and had to surface for air. On his third dive he located the boy clinging to a submerged post. He pulled him up in the nick of time and the boy survived. Later the exasperated father asked his son, “What were you doing down there?” The boy sheepishly shrugged and said, “Just waiting on you, Dad. Just waiting on you.” Obviously the kid had unflagging confidence that his father would be there for him no matter what. Some might say the little boy was reckless to put himself in harm’s way in the first place or that he should’ve tried to save himself by dog-paddling upward. Maybe so. But too many of us routinely try to grab the wheel at the first sign of trouble or discomfort instead of patiently allowing God to teach us something we just might need to learn. Nobody likes to be taught anything the “hard way” but sometimes it’s the only way that’ll work. We can’t manufacture faith, hope or trust in ourselves. It’s ironic. The very things we’re responsible for throughout our lives are things we can’t generate on our own. What we need to do we can’t do. We must own up to our radical dependence on God for those vital virtues. What we can and must do is follow the example set by our Lord to love our enemies and forgive our debtors as many times as it takes to make peace with them.

What’s truly amazing is that Jesus’ faithfulness isn’t contingent on the level of our trust in Him. We waver. He doesn’t. His grace knows no bounds. We often stray off and try to do things our way but He always takes us in when we turn around and run back to His arms. His door is never closed. My trust in Christ isn’t the result of palpable, legal proof. It’s a profound, intuitive sense; an undeniable instinct; a fundamental gut feeling that He literally lives in me. It’s the trust Job had. Even when all attempts to come to grips with why things had gone so terribly wrong in his life continued to come up empty his trust endured. Manning wrote, “The scriptural document doesn’t present Job’s experience as a way to understand evil but as a way to live with it.” Walter Burghardt said, “Only trust makes evil endurable – trust not because God has offered proof, but because God has shown His face. The movement in summary: from experience of God to love of God to trust in God.” We all have to decide whether to trust in Jesus or not. I’ve trusted in myself before and that was a big mistake. Now I only trust in the One who gave His life for me. I don’t trust anybody or anything else the way I trust Jesus.

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