“He who trusts in himself is a fool.”Proverbs 28:26
“…the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”Romans 9:33 (footnote to Isaiah 8:14, 28:16)
Rarely does a sermon, Bible lesson, or a daily devotional not mention some iteration, backstory, or combination of the notion of trusting in Jesus completely while not trusting in ourselves at all.
This is pervasive, standard issue, Christian advice. With Christ living in our own individual Christian hearts, we hope Jesus will help us to shine His light of love, caring, and compassion out into the external world. I can’t help but notice, though, that His bright light also shines into all my own internal darkness. And further, that while His holy light shining into my soul illuminates my sin and error, it doesn’t automatically fix them.
I doubt I’m alone in that observation.
Non-believers in Christ, quasi-believers in Christ, errant believers in Christ, and atheists against any notion of God have the same problem but don’t realize it. Our human default mode – also a sure sign of our fallenness – is that we are ordained to trust ourselves first: “I believe in me.” Then, once we are rich, smart, good looking, and healthy, we feel competent to demand of God why He allows adversity and injustice: “You, God, can fix everything. That’s what the Bible says. So … fix it.”
In my experience, the folks who least understand the Bible and Jesus are often the quickest to blame God for their troubles, trusting Him as nothing more than a temporal Mr. Fix-It. This isn’t a case of a broken light switch; it is a case of blindness to God’s love, truth, goodness, and ultimate mission of Jesus Christ on earth: God’s glory.
Developing the faith to outsource trust onto something we know but can’t see is a sign of a mature Christian. Thinking that the grasp and surety of my faith are a function of my ability to put my trust “in” myself and my intellect presents a contradiction of a fairly high and eternally damaging magnitude: We think we are the light. No.
Christians spend all this time talking about how much they trust Jesus as their savior, and spend almost as much time worrying about whether they are really saved. I believe this is the manifestation of the tension we feel between the light of Christ shining outwardly vs. inwardly: of His true worthiness vs. our true unworthiness.
It’s also a telling gauge of trust: What’s harder to trust than that Jesus would save even a sinner like me? Being Jesus’s light out into the world while dealing with, addressing, and feeling the shame of what that light makes us see within ourselves seems, at the very least, a bit of a stretch. Yet, it is the most profound dynamic of hope:
Peace, trust, and deep faith come upon us when we realize it’s all the same light.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) figures our fallenness is all the same; it’s just easier to judge the world’s than our own. Good tip: read the surrounding context in the Bible verses listed up top. “Fool” and “shame” describe permanent, not temporary afflictions. May we endeavor to be neither in the New Year. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.