The Kingdom of God: Part One

I sat, criss-cross applesauce, amidst other 1st graders, at our non-denominational church in the chilly basement in Small Town, Nebraska. The other kids whispered quietly to each other, while my good friend, Michael, joked loudly with his cousin, Nick. I stared at my brand-new penny loafers, while my favorite Sunday School teacher bent down to pull the flannelgraph out from underneath the cabinet. Kendra, my best friend throughout my childhood, leaned over and whispered, “Yes! She’s pulling out the flannelgraph!” Her platinum blond bangs were curled and fluffed and her blue eyes lit up. We both loved paper dolls… hence, our love for flannelgraph was up there too. 

The teacher lined up a cutout of Jesus on the flannelgraph… some angels…. a couple harps… and clouds. Lots of clouds. 

“Oooo…” I whispered back to Kendra. “I think we’re talking about heaven today…” She nodded. The teacher began to motion us closer to the flannel graph, and we scraped our knees on the carpet to get as close as possible. 

“Okay, kids,” the teacher began. “Today we’re going to talk about the Kingdom of God.”

And that’s where it begins.

At least for me, that’s where I learned that heaven and the Kingdom are the same thing. I think most people, at least most people in the American Church, think of the Kingdom of God as heaven. At least that’s what I thought for most of my life. And that’s not exactly wrong. But it’s not exactly right either.

I think we miss so much of the grandness of the Kingdom if we limit it to what we’ve pictured heaven to be like since we were small children.

 

What does the Bible say about the Kingdom of God?

Here’s where we have to do a little bit of background. Like all the way back to the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures. 

At the beginning of our universe… time… creation… God was able to walk with man and woman in the Garden of Eden. God’s Realm was able to overlap the Human Realm.  Now before you go thinking that I’m quoting fairy tales… there’s not a better way to explain it. The Bible Project has an amazing visual (link here) and I’ve recreated one here as well.

In the beginning of humankind’s entrance to this world, God allowed Our Realm and His Realm to overlap, which is why God could walk with humans in the Garden. At this time, it was possible because there was no sin… no death… no decay. God could walk with them. And then as suddenly as it was there… it was gone with humans’ choice to choose what they thought was good for them.  God’s Realm had to pull away from our Realm due to human’s darkness (selfishness, idolatry, disobedience) in their hearts. God could not be around our choosing of sin over Him. (And yet… He still pursues us as we see through the rest of the story.)

Here’s another way to look at it: God’s rule overarched everything; God ruled over all things in this earthly realm, at the beginning of creation. He then gave us (humankind) the responsibility to rule over our world, this creation. However, when sin entered through choices that humankind made, God’s rule was unable to continue to reside everywhere without nullifying his dominion or power.  

Okay- let’s stop right here… I’m gonna give you an action item before you continue. Please find your Bible or pull out the YouVersion app and read Genesis 1 and 2. Slowly. Don’t just skim through it. Take your time… come back to this when you’re done.

God’s Rule and the Garden

But through this entire story cast from the beginning until now, He has continued to pursue after us and restore us back to the Garden once again. He wants to be able to walk with us again. We can trace God’s hand in trying to restore us back to the Garden over and over through Scripture. On the last day of this world as we know it, Christ will come and once again God’s rule will reign over all things and his Will will continuously once again be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

Let’s look at the times where there are narratives relating to Gardens or garden imagery.

Genesis 2:15

Then the Lord God took the human and put him into the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 

Essentially, humans were “planted” in the Garden to take care of it. 

 

Garden Language

As you skim through the Bible, right smack dab in the middle, you’ll find the book of Song of Songs. Now… most of us have giggled as children as we’ve read the erotic and vivid language. However, let’s be adults for a second and look at the insane amount of garden imagery that is SHOUTING from the pages of this book. As you read, notice that the lovers find themselves surrounded by images of the garden. The language found here is a mirror image of the creation of the garden language. (See a passage to the right for an example of this.) Later on in the book, you’ll see the creation story played out in a sense, leading to a restored creation. (Read more about this at Bible Project’s Song of Songs and A Return to the Garden.)

The Tabernacle and Temple Design

When Moses led the Israelite nation out of Egypt, they soon realized that they needed a place while they travelled (or wandered) to worship and meet with God. Moses was given specific instructions by God and it essentially was a large tent teeming with garden images woven into its walls and furniture that were made to look like trees/flowers in a garden.

Later, as the Temple was built, we realize if we look at how they designed and decorated it, that they were modeling it after the Garden of Eden. Essentially by this correlation, we realize that the Israelites saw the Garden of Eden as the original “Temple” place. A place where they were planted and could be with God. 

300 Years Later… Here Comes the Kingdom!

When Jesus appeared on the scene, there had been 300 years of silence from God. No prophets speaking. No audible words from heaven. And then suddenly… there was a man in the desert preaching about repentance, baptism and the coming of the King.

Next, the latest gossip is that this carpenter turned Rabbi from Nazareth was preaching about the Kingdom of God. And not just about it- that it was coming… at hand… present… but not quite yet. (Side note- this would have been a red flag to the present Roman empire… someone’s preaching about another Kingdom that’s coming?) Jesus started by preaching in the book of Mark,

Mark 1:15

“The Kingdom of God is at hand.” 

 

The Shulamite

As the king surrounded me at his table,
the sweet fragrance of my praise perfume
awakened the night.
A sachet of myrrh is my lover,
like a tied-up bundle of myrrh resting over my heart.
 He is like a bouquet of henna blossoms—
henna plucked near the vines at the fountain of the Lamb.
I will hold him and never let him part.

The Shepherd-King

Look at you, my dearest darling,
you are so lovely!
You are beauty itself to me.
Your passionate eyes are like gentle doves.

The Shulamite

My beloved one,
both handsome and winsome,
you are pleasing beyond words.
Our resting place is anointed and flourishing,
like a green forest meadow bathed in light.
 Rafters of cedar branches are over our heads
and balconies of pleasant-smelling pines.

Song of Songs 1:12-17

This was the first thing that Jesus preached about (he talked about it over 100 times over his ministry that are recorded… so… may have been his favorite!) but it was also the last thing he preached on after his resurrection. He single-handedly taught his disciples about the intricacies of the Kingdom in his last days on Earth.

New Kingdom = New Creation

In fact, those same disciples (and later Paul, the apostle) wrote about a new creation coming… (doesn’t that sound like another garden?)  They wrote over and over about new things that came with Christ, and how a new heaven and a new earth would be established.

The new Creation? It’s the same thing as the Kingdom. The disciple, John, wrote in the final book of our Bibles about what the final commencement of this New Kingdom would look like.

Revelation 21:1-27

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” …

So- this picture shows us the future fulfillment of the Kingdom. But how does that help us picture what the Kingdom looks like for us today?

What Does the Kingdom Look Like Today?

If we think about the Kingdom, like it’s already here but not yet completely fulfilled… we can picture it almost “advancing.” As if the spread of the Kingdom, the rise of a new King… is on it’s way. (More on the King in the next post.) Here’s something else to help with that picture of what the Kingdom looks like for us today.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Here’s the thing, when we decide that the King of this new Kingdom (this New Creation) is the King of our lives, we become a New Creation ourselves. Like we are mini-New Creations running around and spreading the Kingdom news to everyone and anyone we come into contact with. We get to show others what Kingdom Life is like: living full of grace, peace, love and faith in God. We get to experience unity with God within ourselves (this brings the Holy Spirit into play). We get to walk and talk with God every single moment of our day.

And if we don’t understand this- if we don’t understand the Kingdom of God- we don’t understand the first part of the Gospel that Jesus preached on.

So, what did Jesus define the Kingdom as?

More on that to come! (Kinda like the Kingdom…)

Stay tuned for Part Two of The Kingdom of God

What is the Gospel?

Let’s walk back in time for a second.

Picture this:

It’s 26 A.D in Nazareth (Israel). You’ve spent the week as a stonemason and your arms ache from the back-breaking work you do, day in and day out. This Sabbath morning, you’re sitting in the synagogue listening to the men of your small village read from the Holy Scriptures. Suddenly, your ears perk up. This is a scripture that you’ve heard before… but it’s been years. And now with the endless exhaustion that you call your life, the brutality from the Roman empire, and your brother joining the Zealots in their fight against Rome- you just want to survive. You listen as the words ring out from the mouth of Hezekiah, an elderly man that you’ve looked up to your entire life. He is the picture of what you hope to have one day… a solid family… good business… an honor to God. 

His gravelly voice scruffs through the quiet sound of breathing and hushes from mothers to their infants in the alcove.

“‘Behold’…” he clears his voice and continues, “ ‘I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the Lord of hosts.’” 

Your breath catches. For some reason… this seems to strike a chord within your heart. One of the poems from the prophet Isiah you had memorized as a child floods your mind. You feel as though the hardness of your life is cracking and light is seeping in. 

How lovely on the mountains

Are the feet of him who brings good news,

Who announces ]peace

And brings good news of happiness,

Who announces salvation,

And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices,

They shout joyfully together;

For they will see with their own eyes

When the Lord restores Zion.

 

For some reason… you suddenly have an overwhelming sense of…. Hope. You blink to keep the tears from forming behind your dry and sleep-creased eyes and you suck a breath in. You cannot let your boss sitting a couple rows ahead of you see your emotion. Could it be? Could the return of the King be closer than ever? 

You fake an eye rub but that doesn’t slow down your heart beginning to race. You immediately recall what you heard in the river valley the other day. A man, whose voice was hoarser than old Hezekiah’s blasting a message in the desert. What was he preaching? Something about the Kingdom of Heaven is coming near? Suddenly, you have a desire to walk out of the synagogue to hunt down that crazy guy who supposedly eats insects and wears camel leather to clothe himself. Could it be true? Could the Messiah be on his way? Was this the Good News your nation had been waiting for?

Good News?

The nation of Israel had been waiting for hundreds, even thousands of years for the Anointed One (Messiah) who would come and deliver them. They had been exiled as a nation… thrown into slavery… watched as their temple was demolished and decimated… and yet still- they hoped and prayed for the day when the Messiah would come to save them. That to them- was the Good News.

Here’s the thing… in today’s day and age, we think we’re pretty smart. We laugh and giggle at how our worship and our churches have a leg up on what God wanted for the church. We believe that God is applauding us for our amazing way of ministry and church involvement. But… I think we’ve missed a lot of what Jesus would call the Good News/Gospel. We tend to make it all about ourselves… and it’s cost us dearly in our churches. We’ve lost the majority of the Good News about the reign of the King… and we hardly mention anything about the Kingdom. And repentance? Well… isn’t that a Catholic thing?

Bill Hull and Ben Sobels, in their book, “The Discipleship Gospel” write, 

“Instead of telling the gospel story of God’s kingdom coming through Jesus Christ, we’ve reduced salvation to hearing a truncated gospel with a short, one-time prayer tacked on the end. The gospel we often hear today goes something like this: You have sinned, and sin separates you from God. Jesus died on the cross for your sins. If you believe in Jesus, God will forgive your sins and you will go to heaven when you die. Would you like to believe in Jesus? Great!, let’s pray the sinner’s prayer and you’ll be saved. Boom! Done. Gospel presented. But really? Is that it?”

 

And here you see… we’ve made it all about ourselves. I’ve literally heard that this is what the Gospel is… our way to get to heaven. But dear friends, we’ve missed the main point when we think it’s all about that. Because it’s not about us at all. 

So- really—- what is the Gospel? And where did that strange word “gospel” even come from? 

What is the Gospel?

We find the phrase, “Good News” in the Old Testament first.  But this Good News isn’t just a basic phrase meaning regular good news… like your dog having puppies.  Its meaning lies specifically in the announcement of the reign of a new King. This isn’t your everyday type of good news… this is news that a new King is in town… and he’s come to stay. (See Bible Project’s video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmFPS0f-kzs). 

If you look back at the verses found in the poem in Isaiah, it’s talking about news coming from a messenger (How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…) who’s bringing an announcement of the reign of a new King. 

This same word in the New Testament is the Greek word, “Euangelion” or “Good News” which the NT authors used to combine all of Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom into one word. When the New Testament was translated into English, they translated Good News into the Anglo-Saxon word, Godspell (which means God Tale or God Story). So… Gospel = Good News. 

(FYI: I honestly like Good News better… so I may  stick with that for the most part.)

So… we still haven’t exactly clarified what the Good News is… so I’m gonna give you a quick peek into the overview.

What is the Good News?

Mark 1:14-15 (NASB)- Parenthesis Mine

Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel (good news) of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel (good news).”

So… Jesus preached the Gospel? I don’t know why… but I’ve missed that for YEARS. How a Bible college-educated, pastor’s wife and church planter missed that… I don’t know. (I’m gonna blame it on my underactive thyroid and gluten fog I was in for the previous 30 some years… LOL!) 

Later in that same passage in verses 16-18, it reads:

As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 

So… Jesus was preaching that the Kingdom of God is NOW… and to repent and believe (put your trust) in this Good News… and then to follow Jesus. 

Later in chapter 8 of Mark, verses  29-31, we read about Jesus and his disciples having a discussion as they walked to some villages near Caesarea Philippi. Jesus begins to ask some questions and then asks the disciples some specific questions. 

And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” And He warned them to tell no one about Him.

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 

Let me give you some background first: Christ means Messiah… which also means “The Anointed One… who’s anointed? A King.)

But in these verses, Jesus begins to set up his disciples to understand more of what this Good News was (specifically about his death and resurrection.)

The Good News was (and still is):

  • The Kingdom of God is coming (or is here now… more on that in the next blog post…)
  • Jesus is King (or the Christ… or the Messiah…)
  • His Death
  • His Resurrection

And our response? 

  • To Repent
  • To Believe (Or trust in the Good News)
  • To Follow.
So… if this is the Gospel… then it’s not…
  • Forgiveness Only
  • Left (Old and New Gospel)
  • Prosperity Gospel
  • Consumer Gospel
  • Right (Conservative) Gospel
  • American Gospel
  • Social Justice Gospel

All of these gospels may have a part of the Good News correct…. But they are missing so… much… more.  And ultimately… if we make the gospel about us… then it’s not the Good News.

Because the Good News is all about Jesus and the Kingdom.

Boom. Drop mic.

 

What Have You Done?

June 1, 2020
This is not okay. Not even in the slightest.

To begin- let me first say- I don’t know if my voice on this really even matters. I’ve really had to process the last week- even the last couple of month’s… scratch that… the last couple of years, over the last couple of days. And actually, I’m positive I’ve been circling the grieving process.

You see, I am surrounded by a great church and a great community of friends… and to be really honest, when I’m with them (as when I’m with Jesus) I feel like it’s heaven on earth. Literally. There is no dissension… distrust… argumentative nature… opposition… racism… There is only love… grace… and truth. I love that our church family is actually living out the vision statement of our church.

So, when I hear of these obscene, awful, dehumanizing things that have occurred and are continuing to occur across our nation… I am sucked back to the reality that we still live in the fallen world. That the Kingdom is here… but has not fully arrived…  And that although I experience little pieces of heaven on earth that last for days… we are still surrounded by sin and hatred. And it makes me furious.

 

The fact that a man could treat another man this way makes me violently ill. The video footage made me so angry I wanted to jump through the screen and body check the cop. And I’m not usually prone to violence by any means… but the injustice and brutality was disgusting to me.

Callous. Despicable. Vile. Inhuman.

And I think that’s just it. What God created us to be- in His Image (literally meaning in the Hebrew that we are his graven image here on Earth), we keep reducing ourselves to inhumanity through how we treat each other. We keep repeating the same sin over and over. Let’s go back… clear back… shall we?

If we flip our Bibles back to Genesis 4, we see that God wasn’t happy with Cain’s sacrifice. Why? Notice something that I’ve bolded for emphasis.

When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift,  but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

Genesis 4:3-5

Cain only brought some (not the firstfruits, nor the best fruits… just some) of his crops as a gift. And Abel? That nice guy brought the “best portions” of the “firstborn” lambs. He brought the best. And Cain knew it. Jealousy ensued… and developed into anger towards God and hatred toward his brother. God immediately noticed; he still cares for the brother pouting in the corner.

“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Genesis 4:6-7

Sin is Crouching

God was right. If we cannot subdue our hatred… sin controls us. Down to a knee in the neck. Police stations on fire. African-American children needing to hear and obey “The Talk” in the hopes that they won’t be the next victim. Society as a whole being completely distrustful across our races.

But it seems that somehow sin wins… again and again.

One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.”  And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

Genesis 4:8

Even with Cain’s jealousy and murder of Abel, God still cared for him. Which is very hard for most of us to wrap our heads around. There’s no mention of how Adam and Eve reacted. I can only imagine the horror they must have felt when they heard the news. 

Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”

“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood.  No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”

Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment is too great for me to bear!  You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me will kill me!”

 The Lord replied, “No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him. So Cain left the Lord’s presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Genesis 4:9-15

 

 

My heart thuds when I listen to God’s words in this passage. Over and over, He keeps pointing Cain back to the fact that his victim was his brother.  Isn’t that what we all are essentially? Family? Tribes? Nations? And Cain’s response is once again- all about him. He’s worried that he’ll be killed by another human. And God still protects his life. God still values and loves Cain, who murdered his own brother.

Why do we keep doing this to each others? These horrific acts against God’s own image? We are supposed to live in the Land of the Free… but the more I know and understand… the more I know it’s untrue. Until the Kingdom fully arrives with Jesus’ return, we will never live in any land of the free. We will never be fully free of any of this sin until we lay down at the feet of Jesus and ask for his forgiveness. Confess all the injustice we are apart of- through affiliation or not. And determine, once and for all to follow after Jesus… every step of the way.

But- still- we must do better. We must love more. We must forgive over and over. We must write these names upon our hearts and speak out. We must stand up for anyone who is being bullied or  terrorized due to the color of their skin. We must stand up for what Jesus asked of us: to love our neighbor and pray for those who persecute us. We must yell from the rooftops that there is no room for racism in our nation nor in the Kingdom. I don’t know how exactly… but I’m going to take a stand today.

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor…

And those who never even made a headline… 

Trust: The Relationship Builder

He looked me square in the eye, and with determination and sweet love, he asked, “Do you really want to do this? Now’s the time if you need to change your mind.” My arm fit perfectly underneath my Dad’s arm and I looked back at him direct, our matching green eyes looking intently into each other’s souls.

“Yes, Dad.”

“Okay, MegBeth.” He smiled, with a strange sort of smile and tears in his eyes. We turned, my arm still tucked loving under his, and walked slowly behind the trail of bridesmaids in crimson gowns, who led the way to the man I was going to marry.

I now understand my Dad’s strange smile. At that moment, I was no longer under his protection. No longer a Daddy’s girl. I would no longer run to him first for safety, wisdom or advice. I had finally found a man worthy of my trust. And I was choosing him.

I had all the reasons not to trust: other boyfriends had cheated… pushed me past my boundaries… slandered and gossiped about me to others. But this man was different.

He had a boyish charm, light blue eyes that were full of warmth, and a smile that made my heart beat faster. But more than anything… it was a choice on my part to trust him that sealed the deal.

And it was the scariest walk I’ve ever had to take with my Dad.

Thoughts of the future… will we stay best friends as we had been the last two years? Will he forgive me when I mess up, again and again? Will he seek forgiveness and apologize even when he’s beyond angry? Will we have heartache and hurt between us? Will we have children and will they complicate or strengthen our relationship?

I now know the answers to all of the questions that were darting through my mind as I put one foot in front of another, while my Dad held me gently under his arm. Since then, Michael has broken my trust. And yet- would I still make that choice almost 17 years ago? Yes.

So, there I was (17 years ago) standing next to a man who barely looked his age, who couldn’t wait to take my hand from my father’s.

It was in those moments that led up to right then, that I was choosing to trust. Choosing to take a man’s hand to lead me into the next stage of our lives. I had no clue what the future held. I didn’t know that I would cry wretched sobs over this man. But, I made a choice. Just a choice. My thoughts and emotions had no pull either way. I decided to choose. Nothing more.

Trust Is…

So… what is trust? And is it something that we are born with? Or is it something that grows within us? Does it depend on nature or nurture?

To rely on the integrity, strength, ability, surety of a person or thing is what trust is defined as. You could also say it’s having confidence in someone or something.

According to a thesis “Nature versus Nurture: Is Trust Innate or Learned? An Analysis on Human Capital Determining Trustwritten by Deanne Lorraine C. Dummo and Mary Kristine P. Rabe, it was determined that trust was innate, and not learned. So… we are genetically disposed or indisposed to be trusting. That’s pretty crazy- but it gives us a window into knowing ourselves inwardly. It may be harder for you to trust- by nature. Or easier!

So… what is trust worth? Do we need it to survive?

Essentially… yes. Trust is what holds families, organizations, and nations together. There needs to be an element of trust to keep any kind of relationship together. We may not realize the importance of trust… until it’s gone. Trust builds camaraderie in groups/churches/sports and with those shared interests, and builds until it seems as though the “organization” moves and breathes as if it’s its own organism. 

 

To Trust or Not to Trust

So- why do we choose not to trust?

We base people’s intentions on their actions… and not always on their words. Growing up in Nebraska, when someone gave you their word, it meant that they would follow through. You can imagine when I moved to Missouri for college, and assumed that people’s word would always hold true. I learned pretty quickly, that it didn’t. I had to begin to base who I trusted on whether their actions lined up with their words… or not.

My mom used a phrase once, “They talked the talk, but didn’t walk the walk.” I’ve found this is more reliable than relying on anyone’s word now. Which is really sad… the words we speak… don’t mean anything. We have to base our trust on the actions of those we’re looking to trust and whether their actions match their words.

When we choose to trust someone or something, we are opening ourselves up to vulnerability. By giving our trust, we are allowing them the chance to hurt us, whether intentional or not. And, by golly- we are not going to be hurt- right? Put yourself first- isn’t that the motto of the world right now? I mean- come on people… it doesn’t get more self-centered than that.

But, when it comes down to it- it’s just a decision. We choose to trust… or not to. It’s simple.

Squash Growing Distrust

And when we feel that distrust begin to bubble up from our guts, nerves or emotions- we need to choose to get rid of it. And I honestly don’t know how that would work for you. But for me? I usually pray first.

Step One: Pray First

There are moments in my marriage, even now after 16 ½ years, that I feel distrust crop up in my heart towards Michael. It has nothing to do with insecurity… or his integrity. It has to do with the spiritual war that’s raging around us. It can also crop up when our expectations are not met. We must be on our toes when remembering that we are in a spiritual battle all the time. 

Ephesians 6:12 says:

Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings, but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms. For they are a powerful class of demon-gods and evil spirits that hold this dark world in bondage.

So, when I sense distrust in my relationship- I pray. And if it doesn’t go away, I immediately talk to Michael. I treat all other relationships and friendships in the same way. The Deceiver is a master at dividing the church, families, and friends. Which brings me to the next step.

 

Step 2: Start Talking

Bringing things that are in the dark, into the light, always works. It always brings healing and health back into a relationship. If you’re struggling to trust someone you should be able to trust, talk to them about it.

Ephesians 5:13:

But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible…”

Now, don’t get me wrong… when you bring things into the light, you need to check yourself before you start talking. Make sure that you have good intent and are seeking wisdom and unity in your relationship. If you focus on healing and reconciliation with God’s help and leading from the Holy Spirit, health should be restored.

Step 3: Leave It With God

I don’t fully understand why distrust happens. But, when I give my distrust to God… he almost always is faithful to help me work through it in every aspect of my being. And if there’s one being that we can trust- it’s God. Man is flawed… but God is not. We can continuously trust in Him over ALL OTHERS.

One of my favorite verses of all times (I have it taped to the mirror in my bathroom) is 1 Peter 5:6-7. The way it’s written in The Passion Translation (check out my post on versions and translations here!) is pretty neat.

If you bow low in God’s awesome presence, he will eventually exalt you as you leave the timing in his hands. Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.

The key here is- once you’ve given your distrust to God, you can’t take it back. (See next step 🙂

Who to Trust?

When I began searching through Scripture for how to deal with distrust or even trust for that matter, I found something interesting. Almost all the results point to trust in Father God and his Son, Jesus.

Step 4: Trust God

Trust in the Lord completely,

and do not rely on your own opinions.

With all your heart rely on him to guide you,

and he will lead you in every decision you make.

Become intimate with him in whatever you do,

and he will lead you wherever you go.

Don’t think for a moment that you know it all,

for wisdom comes when you adore him with undivided devotion

and avoid everything that’s wrong.

Then you will find the healing refreshment

your body and spirit long for.

Proverbs 3:5-8

If we can’t trust our own opinions, then who can we trust but God? We need to remember to allow God to lead us in every decision in our lives. That’s a tough thing to write- even tougher to live it out.

When we look further into scripture in a handful of times, the authors of the Bible wrote about the shaky choice to trust money over God and another time how the disciples trusted Judas Iscariot, the disciple who then betrayed Jesus. Hmmmm….

So, it’s clear that if we trust money over God, it will fail us. And sometimes, if we trust another human being, they could betray us. It is possible. (In the book of John, chapter 2, it mentions that Jesus didn’t entrust himself to his followers yet, because he knew that the hearts of men were fickle. Whoa!)

So, in the end… we have a choice to make.

Step 5: Choose to Trust

In this day and age, trust is hard to find. When we’ve been hurt over and over by people we’ve loved, it can be hard to let down your walls. But you’re gonna have to if you want any fulfilling and loving relationships.

Sometimes, a phrase just sums it up. 

Suck it up, buttercup. 

If you want solid relationships, you’ve got to trust. First God. Then the person.

 

 

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