Trust, Unity and Friendship by Robert Bond
Jesus’ prayer in the 17th chapter of John was one concerning oneness. This would imply cooperation, understanding, and transparency to accomplish His work and the will of the Father on the earth. God meant for His children to operate and cooperate together motivated by love for God, love for each other, love for the work, and love for the mission. Concerning unity, Charles H. Brent a 20th century Episcopal bishop said, “The unity of Christendom is not a luxury, but a necessity. The world will go limping until Christ’s prayer that all may be one is answered. We must have unity, not at all costs, but at all risks. A unified church is the only offering we dare present to the coming Christ, for in it alone will He find room to dwell.” One of the issues that Jesus faced while training His apostles was one of competition and hierarchy. Jesus wants to move us past the insular, separate mentality of life lived among the familiar and safe into loving trust and friendship with others.
Trust is a form of spiritual and personal currency. With trust one assumes some level of risk by investment. It exposes us to loss and hurt, but it proposes the ability to gain. One who never trusts never gains, and one who manages how and who to trust stands to profit and is more fit to lead and serve. Ernest Hemmingway noted, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Our ability to trust God and others is a reflection of ourselves and our inward spiritual state and maturity. He who trusts everyone without reservation is just as foolish as one who never trusts anyone. So how do we learn to trust more and apply wisdom to relational processes?
- In order to trust, we must cultivate Love.
You’ve been disappointed, been betrayed, lost confidence in people, gotten angry, and felt the desire to go it on your own. No problem. It’s normal to possess and process these emotions when wronged, but it’s in these very instances that Jesus calls us to a higher plane of existence within His kingdom; i.e. turn the other check, pray for those who persecute, do good to those who hate you, etc. (Matthew 5:39-48). One isn’t better because they have a great ability, gifting, disposition, appearance, or likeability. Greatness is in possessing God’s quality of Love. I cultivate love when I am patient with the ignorant, seek the good of another over myself, believe and hope the best in people even when they are not at their best, stay quiet when I know I shouldn’t speak, refuse to stay silent when I know I should speak, and adopt the mindset to always convey and demonstrate God’s heart and Word (1 Corinthians 13; John 7:18; Ephesians 4:31, 32).
We are in a generation that craves realness and authenticity, and we are also in a generation that has more unfamiliarity with the Bible and God’s truths. The enemy of our souls is greatly displeased with those that have courage to be who they are in Christ who speak and show God’s Word and nature to the world. We’ll foster greater trust and respect and influence by being authentic in Christ rather than trying to be what we think the church and world want to see.
- Trust among people and communities is not always to be presumed, but to be developed.
So God put Adam and Eve in the garden to work together, grow together, create together, manage together, and live together. In walks Satan to divide and conquer causing Eve to question God’s motive and character and causing Adam to sin against God by trusting Eve’s word (Satan’s lie) over trusting God’s Word. Without solid trust in God and His ability to lead His people, Satan’s slick voice of division, controversy, jealousy, envy, and the like will wreak havoc in your life and others. Getting together with like-minded believers and sticking through the developmental stage of community establishment yields powerful results that creates less jockeying and more volleying. Rather than competition to outdo one another, community, like practice in sports can be likened to a baseball team playing catch before a game, a tennis player practicing serve and volley with a partner before the match, and a boxer sparring with headgear while training for the fight. It should be disciplined, safe, and productive with the intent on practice for victory. To develop trust and real friendship, it requires that we also develop the virtues of longsuffering and patience with people. Developing virtue requires spending time with the Giver of all good things. Growing trust and friendship requires all parties to trust God first and enough to see them through the process of bearing fruit as a group, community, and church. This simply mirrors our relationship with God Who bears with us, forgives us, extends mercy toward us, and always has our best interests in mind, along with the beloved children of His that we engage with. Let us fear God and treat each other with respect, dignity, and compassion so He can pour His grace out upon us. The greater the trust and humility within a group, the greater the grace of God available and present to grow and sustain us for His work (James 4:6).
- Who and what to trust demands prayer and discernment.
Trust grows and blooms to produce friendship. Not everyone is friendly, and God wants us to have enough sense to recognize who to trust and who not to. Jesus warns of false prophets, Paul warns of those with shipwrecked faith, Jude and Peter counsel us on those people who claim to be of God, but without His Spirit. Who do we trust? Who do we maintain friendly, more concentrated relationships with? We must examine friendship. Friendship is not just warn fuzzy sentiment, good times together in amusement, or association based upon mutual benefit. No, for the Christian, friendship is developed by love, by mutual beliefs, by moving in the same direction together. Trust is the engine of friendship. Love is the vehicle, airbags and all. Friends provoke to good works, friends admonish and encourage, and friends stick through hard times because love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things. Along with the influence of social media and the availability of information in a more rapid fashion, we must guard against the type of information we allow to influence our ideas and behaviors. The advent of social media has no doubt damaged many a Christian’s prayer life by substituting shallow, dubious friendships instead of communicating and relying on our best Friend. Jesus of course is the best of friends and the more I spend time with my best Friend, I’ll develop and possess the qualities to develop real friendships. I will also be naturally attracted to those like Him to be friend, and I’ll rejoice in the prospect of seeing enemies transformed into friends. The Christian idea of reconciliation and friendship is not impersonal and distant. Christ provided the atonement in the most personal way possible to those who were afar and those who were near. If by the means of the cross, I now share in the benefits of a right relationship with God, how much more should I not want that for others, and share it in unity with those who have also experienced the miracle of life and godliness?
Don’t be afraid to trust. Be careful who you trust. Don’t ever give up on trusting God.
Thanks for reading,
(Robert currently serves as the worship director for Faith Outreach Center Intl. He and his wife Melissa are the proud parents of their two children, Isabella and Sebastian.)