Sunday, August 26, 2012

Who Do You Trust?

Who do you trust? On what or on whom do you bet your life on? Do you put all your faith in things you can see and hold on to? Who, what do you trust?
          Solomon, the psalmist, Paul, and Peter all put their trust in the One who they believed would care for them forever, the One who as Peter said, had “…the words of real life, eternal life.” They all made a commitment to stay with God, the Son of God sure that they were one and the same although how was a mystery to them. They trusted God because he’d always been faithful in keeping the covenant he’d made with their ancestors and with them.
          Who do we trust today? Jesus’ disciples found his words hard to swallow. Some couldn’t believe or didn’t want to make the commitment to give their whole lives to Jesus and so they left him.
          Who do we trust? Is the pull exerted on us by the world too strong? What have we done to protect ourselves, to keep our souls safe, and prepare ourselves for this life and the one to come?
          Paul used the metaphor of putting on armor. Today he might have said that we need to don our bullet-proof Kevlar vests.  What can we do to protect our souls from the wiles of the worldly one, the evil forces prevalent all around us? What bullet-proof vest can we use to keep our souls from being destroyed or stolen?
          Paul told the Ephesians that they should be prepared.  They were up against more than they could imagine. I don’t think anything’s changed today. I also believe we can’t imagine all the forces that are against those who have committed to being followers of Jesus and believe in God and his promise of eternal life. 
          Maybe we’ve become de-sensitized to the dangers that surround us. We need something to protect us, something we can trust to keep us safe. Paul said, “Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon.”
          He reminds us that prayer is an essential piece of protection in this conflict with the evil forces in the world.  We should pray long and hard and prayer for all our brothers and sisters. We are to be alert to how our friends are doing and when we notice changes that we get on our knees and pray for them.  Paul didn’t want anyone to be lost and we don’t either. So, we should heed his advice and pray, pray long and hard.
          I never was much of a fighter. In fact I would do whatever I could to stay out of the way of any conflict. So, it’s hard for me to imagine putting on something as cumbersome as armor.
          Today we’d imagine someone being clothed in the latest armor and weapons that the greatest military engineers could think of, cluster bombs, AK47’s, and Kevlar vests and helmets. But what if we went another direction and instead of physical combat we employed the best thinking minds in the world to resolve conflicts? What if we relied on minds that are skilled in International Laws and courts of justice?  What if we used the technology at our disposal to alleviate poverty and hunger?  What if we listened to those talking about climate change and tried some of their suggestions? Would that maybe be one way to protect this world we live in and at the same time love others as Jesus taught us?
          Could that be what Jesus meant when he said, “Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day… By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven...Whoever eats this Bread will live always.”
          Is this what he meant when he asked us to eat and drink the flesh and blood of the Son of Man? Is this the armor Paul was talking about?
          Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are the pieces we need to place our trust in to protect us. God is the one who provides them for us. We can trust He will come through for us because he has kept his promises, his covenant.
          So, you say you want to but you have doubts. Friends, you’re not alone. The evil forces in the world don’t cause those who don’t believe to doubt because they’ve already made their decision. But those who are being assailed by doubts are still following the Way of Jesus and the world’s forces are trying to pull us away by making us doubt. And that’s why we need to protect ourselves with prayer, one of the most powerful pieces of armor God has given us.
          So, now who do you trust, God or the other forces at play in the world? I pray that you will put your trust in God, the One who gives good things to those who walk with integrity. Those who trust in Him are truly happy…and their souls are safe from the Evil One.
            Thanks be to God for his saving grace. Amen.

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