I read an article yesterday that focused in on one of the underlying challenges we in the US face – a lack of trust of one another.
The author started with a question – why do so many people mistrust experts? The author went from that question to talking about how it flows through mistrust of institutions and what we are willing to see in common with others, if anything – especially with those we disagree with.
In some sense, trust has been in decline for some time now – decades. Congress has had a low approval rating for as long as anyone can remember. It doesn’t help when we elect politicians who turn out to be corrupt and then actually serve jail time. It erodes trust in our political system.
Religion is no different. With sexual abuse scandals as well as financial scandals, the church has been its own worst enemy when it comes to trust. Why trust an institution that isn’t looking out for the most vulnerable?
We can look at other institutions too. The story is the same.
How does a society, or an institution, survive without trust? It can’t.
When we don’t trust one another, then we start to be concerned with basic survival – will this person I am encountering cause me harm, or even death? We put up walls and barriers. We become defensive and assume the worst. And with each encounter, we spiral further into mistrust.
How does a follower of Jesus live out their vocation in such a time as this? Jesus’ entire way of life is about love – vulnerable love, self-emptying love, trusting love.
To be a follower of Jesus is to be counter-cultural. It is risky. It is proclaiming that the mistrust of the world is not the foundation of life. Being a follower of Jesus is about community, relationship, love, peace, forgiveness, mercy, grace. How do you have any of these things if you don’t trust anyone else?
Without Jesus and his way, then the world descends into a state where we value winning at all costs because no one else matters. Without Jesus and his way, the world lives by the ends justifying the means because we don’t trust others and their intentions. Without Jesus and his way, we live in a world that is awfully lonely, painful, and full of suffering – a world we are experiencing.
The way out isn’t by making truth into an idol. It isn’t by force. It isn’t by strength. It is by humility, humbleness, and vulnerability. These are the marks of trust. They are also the way of Jesus.
Regardless of what others may do, let those of us who claim the label of follower of Jesus live this way. Let us risk trusting one another. Let us risk listening. Let us risk loving. Let us risk it all.