Friday, February 15, 2008

Choose to Trust

The idea "you get saved and that's that" is popular in some Christian circles, even among some evangelists who seem to forget that Christ's Great Commission calls us to teach as well as baptize. Not that God's grace is any less sufficient for the "baby Christian"--or any less essential for the theological scholar. The problem arises when we embrace what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace," concluding that once we're saved, God will smile indulgently while we do as we please. That idea is hardly new; St. Paul refers to it in Romans 6.

But "cheap grace" is not an attitude unique to those who revel in blatant sin. It manifests itself in everyone who feels God has failed to "deliver" on something "logic" expects of Him, in everyone who has grown bitter because God did not prevent a tragedy or relieve long-term hardship--whether on a small or large scale. Such feelings are behind many a born-again Christian's turning skeptic. I read a brief excerpt Monday from a book by one such person: "A god who can't stop [all the evil in the world] has no right to my loyalty."

Understandable, perhaps--even Christian scholars have called evil the one atheistic argument that carries weight--but not really logical. If we can't trust God, whom should we trust? The better instincts of humanity? This seems ridiculous, considering that humanity is responsible for much of the evil. Ourselves as individuals? No one with a shred of integrity claims to be morally perfect or capable of becoming so, nor to have absolute power over death and disaster. Or do we simply conclude life is all chance and has no real meaning? Some philosophers have attempted to do so, but most people find it goes against their every instinct; and if you believe nothing has meaning, why are you still railing against "evil"?

Not that those of us who do believe in God will always find straight answers to our despairing "whys?" There come times in every life for which no explanation seems sensible or consoling. When that happens, we have a choice: do we get mad at God and storm off; or do we swallow our pride and say, "Lord, I can't make any sense of this; but I know Your wisdom is infinitely greater than mine, and I know I can trust You to work everything out for the good"?

Because ultimately, faith is a matter neither of logic nor of emotion. It is a matter of the will.

When your whole life lies in shambles
And your dreams seem turned to dust,
You may feel that God has foresaken you,
But you still can choose to trust.

When your utmost efforts falter
And you can't do what you must,
You may doubt the call you once clearly felt,
But you still can choose to trust.

For our feelings can mislead us
And our progress may stand still,
But our faith is always obedience,
And to trust an act of will.

When to struggle on seems hopeless,
We may not hear God's clear voice,
Be He holds us still in His silent strength,
And commands us to rejoice.

So when human courage falters
And you feel you're doomed to fall,
Don't let circumstances rule your thoughts:
Choose to trust the Lord of All!

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