A Gathering Voices Post by Don McKim
I often think about what is the essence of Christian faith. That’s a wide question and one can “slice the pie” in many ways.
Some months ago, I wrote here about “Grace and Gratitude” (http://blog.thethoughtfulchristian.com/2011/12/grace-and-gratitude.html), the “heartbeat” of Christian faith, with the rhythm of our lives being to “inhale” God’s grace; and “exhale” our gratitude. This is a helpful image that gets at the centrality of God’s actions and our response.
There are other images that work well, too. Think of “Union and Communion”—our union with Christ and communion with one another. “Praise and Prayer” are two practices that embrace who we are and what we do. So also is “Love and Serve”—God’s love leads to our love which leads us to serve in the world and serve other people. So images abound; and perhaps this shows us that no one dyad can capture it all!
An image of interest of late has become: “Trust and Entrust.” We trust the God of Israel, known to us in Jesus Christ. And we entrust ourselves in our lives as disciples of Christ into God’s continuing care. This is akin to the image of “faith” we sometimes describe as a child jumping down into a dark space, knowing one is jumping into the arms of our divine parent. It’s an image of the “abandonment” of faith, built on the trust one has in the “subject” or “object” of faith—the God we know in Jesus Christ (to put this in more technical terms).
“Trust and entrust.” As I read Psalm 52, this image is suggested by verses 8 and 9:
But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever.
I will thank you forever,
because of what you have done.
In the presence of the faithful
I will proclaim your name,
for it is good.
The Psalm contrasts true and false security. It contrasts the psalmist who trust God with the psalmist’s enemy who “trusted in abundant riches, and sought refuge in wealth” (52:7). This psalm concludes as a psalm of trust. The trust is in the “steadfast love (Heb. hesed) of God” into which the Psalmists entrusts his whole life. The “steadfast love of God”—the “covenant loyalty” can be trusted because of what God “has done.” The deeds of God express the character of God as the one in whom ultimate security is found and to whom the entrusting of life can be given, “forever and ever.”
The “steadfast love of God” is known to us now in Jesus Christ. In him, all the “covenant loyalty,” so deeply beloved in the Hebrew Scriptures—is now focused, in the one who is the “new covenant” (Luke 22:20). We trust the God of Jesus Christ, the God we know in Jesus Christ.
We entrust our whole lives to God in Jesus Christ, because of what God has done in Christ. For “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). No clearer expression can be found of God’s “steadfast love” than in the cross of Jesus Christ.
In a broader sense, we trust God; and entrust ourselves to God, trusting the God we know and love; and giving up our lives to God’s providential care. We take the leap of faith into a future held secure by God’s ever-present love and power, which is always with us. As Calvin put it, the psalmist “surrendered himself entirely to God in all that regarded this life or his death.” Trust and entrust.
This all leads to persevering in our trusting and entrusting; and doing it all with the deepest thanksgiving: “I will thank you forever,” says the Psalmist. Calvin notes: “There is no religious duty in which it does not become us to manifest a spirit of perseverance; but we need to be especially enjoined to it in the duty of thanksgiving, disposed as we are so speedily to forget our mercies, and occasionally to imagine that the gratitude of a few days is a sufficient tribute for benefits which deserve to be kept in everlasting remembrance.” We thank God ever and always. This is our constant attitude. Our thanksgiving to God begins now and extends forever. This is true security for life, and beyond.
Trust and entrust; and always thanking God!