Do you trust me?

Some words are inherently frightening. Among the more obvious ones, I’d include words like death, failure, torture, and jalapeño ice cream. Surely anyone who hears words like these immediately feels a small sliver of fear sliding its way mercilessly through their chest. And, only the bravest could possibly maintain their composure in the face of such terrifying terms as trapped, disease, helplessness, despair, and reality television show.

But, is there anything more frightening than hearing someone ask, “Do you trust me?”

I don’t know about you, but when I hear a question like that, my fight-or-flight instinct immediately kicks into overdrive. On the fight side of the equation, I start thinking, “What do you want? Surely you want something or you wouldn’t be asking. Well, you’re not going to get it that easily. You’ll have vanquish me and pry whatever it is from my cold dead fingers.” Okay, that may have been a bit strong. But, I like to use the word vanquish whenever I get the chance. And, you get the point. If someone asks about trust, I start to wonder what they’re after and what I’m going to have to do to protect it.

And then there’s the flight response. Ask, “Do you trust me?” and I’m looking for the nearest exit. “You’re not going to trap me so quickly. I have superpowers that enable me to slip through the smallest cracks. Trust you? Sure I trust you. Look! A squirrel!” And I’m gone.

There’s just something scary about being asked to trust someone.

I remember trying to teach the game “trust fall” to my daughter Leah. It’s a simple game. All she has to do is stand in front of me, with her back turned and her arms stretched out to each side. Then, without looking or moving her feet, she needs to fall backward, trusting that I’ll catch her before she hits the ground.

It sounds simple. But Leah actually found it quite difficult. She’d stand there for the longest time, trying to build up the courage to start the fall. And then, just as she was almost at the point where I’d reach out and catch her, she’d get scared and take a step back.

It was rather frustrating. Each time I would reaffirm that I was going to catch her and that I’d never let her hit the ground. Then I’d ask if she believed me. And, of course, she always said that she did, that she knew I’d never let her fall. And, every time she caught herself before she reached my arms.

She believed, but she didn’t yet trust.

We’ve already seen that the faith that saves must be a faith in something. But, biblical faith involves even more than that. Simply believing the truth about God and his amazing story will not lead to salvation. Satan and his demons believe these truths about God. But, it won’t do them anything good. Why not? Because they don’t really have faith. Knowledge and faith are not the same thing.

Do you trust me? As scary as that question might be, it lies at the heart of faith. Having true faith means answering that question with a sometimes confident, though often hesitant, “Yes.” An eyes-closed, arms-outstretched, knees-quaking, yes.

Do you trust me?

That’s the question faith asks. As you’ve worked your way through this story, you’ve heard a lot about God. You’ve read about his grace and his glory, his constant faithfulness, and the amazing promises that he’s made. And, you’ve read about how he sent Jesus to fulfill those promises and lead his people into his Kingdom. So, you now have quite a bit of knowledge about God.

But, do you trust him? Do you believe that he really has your best interests in mind? Are you sure that he will live up to his promises? Do you think that you can place your life in his hands and know that he will take care of you? Are you ready to stretch your arms wide, close your eyes and fall back—placing yourself in his hands, ceding control over your life and well-being, trusting that he will catch you before you hit the ground? That’s faith.

It’s not easy. It’s actually quite scary. But that’s what faith is.

Do you trust me?

(You can read the rest of the posts in this series on the Gospel Book page.)

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on March 16, 2011, in Gospel, Salvation and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. This happened to me when I was young. I read something in the bible that couldn’t be true. A command with a very particular reward I wanted with all of my heart. However, I knew from my personal experience that obeying that command never led to the promised reward. “Confess your sins,” the bible said, “and you will be healed.” I was hurting and confused, and the last time I tried such a thing I was ridiculed.

    But at the time I was listening to a wise Christian man. He kept saying absurd things like, “if the bible says the sky is always purple, then truly, it is so,” and, “absurd faith is always the right amount of faith, just look at the things God expected people to believe in the Old Testament.”

    So, despite the fact I knew from experience the bible was wrong on this one particular issue, I tested my faith and tried again. (This time I combined a few other bible teachings used more prayer and wisdom to pick the right person to confess to.)

    Amazingly, the verse worked. Trust proved itself true in God once again.

    • The hardest times to exercise faith are certainly when it seems to run contrary to our own personal experiences. What do we know more certainly than that which we’ve experienced for ourselves. So, being told to act against that knowledge, can be tough indeed!

      I’d have to disagree, though, with the idea that faith is inherently “absurd” – indeed that absurdity is the hallmark of true faith. I think God created reason for a reason, and that faith does not simply toss it aside – though it can challenge and test it to the breaking point at times. And, of course, that’s when trust is most difficult.

  2. I agree, absurdity is not the true hallmark of Christian faith! Faith are reason are not enemies. That is taking things to one extreme. Expecting faith to line up with reason every time takes it to the other.

    The general operating principle of the relationship between faith and reason is one of near constant harmony.

    However, I believe sometimes we are called to have faith in something truly absurd. Meaning, any person on the planet would find the intended object of faith to be outside of their ability to comprehend, something both seemingly ridiculous and utterly unmeasurable, contrary to everything they have known and experienced.

    We can be called, at times, to have faith in things in which no rational categories or capacities are available to us. Sure it may make sense in the Divine mind or spiritual sphere, but it is fully beyond us, all of us, and entirely unknowable. Our reason must be left behind simply because it cannot come along. It lacks the ability to do so.

    Trinity. Incarnation. Resurrection. Ex – Nihilo Creation. Eternity. Mutual Indwelling.

    All of these can be understood to some degree in rational ways. All of these cannot be understood completely in rational ways. In order to fully participate in the Christian faith, at some times with these subjects and others, we are left with faith alone because human reason has shown itself to be utterly inept.

    Some people call this “mystery.” I would use the phrase, “beyond the capacity of human reason.”

    If reason can fail humanity universally at some points, then certainly my individual reasoning can fail at many more points. In some ways then, faith is superior to reason, but that superiority does not devalue reason’s precious worth. It should be with us – as much as it can.

  3. (I didn’t and don’t agree with the other guy’s quote on the absurdity of true faith, but at that time it helped pushed me where I needed to go, and so it is part of the story.)

  4. Hi Marc,

    Just read your article “Do you trust me?”. You have a very nice writing style. Keep up the good work. Do you ever find yourself questioning whether you really trust Christ? I found your article thought-provoking. Thanks

  1. Pingback: Do you trust me? (via scientia et sapientia) « Man is made of dreams and bones;

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