“All of you together are Christ body and each of you is a part of it.”
– 1 Corinthians 12: 27
Monday morning I sat in a small group Bible study, quiet for a moment (a rare moment), contemplating the discussion on the shoes of peace being activated by gratitude and trust in God. Our group was studying Priscilla Shirer’s The Armor of God and we were on week 4, The Shoes of Peace based out of Ephesians 6:15, “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” There it was, right in the middle of my week’s study. My stumbling block, come back to haunt me once again. That word – Trust.
Trust and I have been on a long journey, but apparently we haven’t gotten very far, because what came out of my mouth kind of shocked me. The fact that I meant every word of the statement worked its way under my skin like an irritating chigger.
My statement: “I trust God and believe he will help me; I struggle with the fact that he uses other people to do it.”
There it was straight from my tongue to the group’s ears. One of my good friends, looked up at me right away. Her eyebrows raised, but she didn’t say a word. A switch of recognition turned on in my mind, helping me see more clearly that my truth didn’t line up with God’s truth. My trust in God wasn’t big enough to include “other people”.
I truly struggle with trusting other people.
Apparently, in my struggle with trusting other people I have bought into a lie about God. That my personal belief is all that matters to him. That each of us need to have a personal belief in Christ and that alone will grow God’s church. That is the lie. While belief is very important, our individual belief will not alone grow the church. Continually throughout scripture God uses people, working together to grow faith and make a difference. There were definitely individual leaders, for example, Abraham in the Old Testament and Paul in the New. But it took people, not just individuals, to grow both Israel and the church.
God may of called Abram (Abraham) out in Haran (Genesis 11:31) to go find the promise land, but God promised to make Abraham “into a great nation”, meaning lots of people. In fact, Genesis 12: 2 says “I will bless you… and you will be a blessing to others.” Because of Abraham’s blessing he was to bless others.
There it is in the first book of the Bible about being a blessing to others. As believers, if we are to be a blessing to others than I am certainly to believe that God will use “other people” to bless and stretch me, as well. Receiving this blessing, though, requires me to trust other people.
In 2006, my husband and I took a trip to Israel. When we were visiting the Dome of the Rock, I was nervous. It was the first time I had ever stepped into a place of worship of people who believed differently than I did. So I did what I do when I get nervous. I grabbed my husband’s hand. Immediately, a guard came running over shouting at us (with his big machine gun bobbing off the strap around his shoulder.) He informed us it was disrespectful to walk on holy ground holding hands. We were to walk individually before God. Boy, did we quickly let go of each other.
That experience imprinted a thought in my mind, I will probably never forget. While Islam wanted us to go to worship God individually, in Christ we are taught to go together. (Matthew 18:20) We are taught to worship, pray and serve together. While individual belief is important in our relationship with Christ, we also need a healthy amount of working together to help us grow in our faith and keep us accountable.
In Amos 3:3 a question is posed that probably illustrates my true attitude on togetherness, though showing the true dilemma on humanity. “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” We don’t always agree on the same direction when we work with others. We don’t always agree period. That is truly where God and trust come in. God and his will are going to have to be my direction as I take a step of faith and trust other people.
God chose to send me an object lesson Monday afternoon, in the form of an intern from our church who has been staying in our home this past week. She is a beautiful sixteen year old from Mexico. When I came to pick her up from the church, we exchanged common pleasantries on how our days went. When she asked me about my day I shared it had been a little rough. Several things had happened on Monday, besides Bible study. A close friend was having to have a breast biopsy, plus, I was nervous about other family stuff. All of it involved trusting God and His direction and some of it even involved trusting other people.
The sweet intern was quiet for a second and then in her heavily Spanish accented voice shared a story. “I was nervous about coming here. I had to cross the bridge at El Paso and then find the airport. Then when in the airport I had to get to my plane and change planes at the next stop. I was so nervous, so I prayed to God. When I got to my next stop, I needed to go to a different part of the airport. But God took care of it. In El Paso, I sat next to a man who traded seats with me so I could sit next to the window, since it was my first flight. Then when we landed God had him show me to my next gate. I was so thankful.”
I was quiet the rest of the way home processing how God had used a complete stranger to help her. Fears of “what ifs” ran through my mind. “What if he had hurt her? What if…” She smiled sweetly at the end of her conversation, totally at peace and immediately jumped into talking about Reik, her favorite music artists playing through the car speakers. In total teenage fashion she had moved on, but I was jolted into a new reality.
It wasn’t necessarily whether she trusted the man. She trusted God enough to know He would help her through the airport. She trusted God enough to recognize when help was being offered from Him. She trusted God enough to know it would probably be in the form of “other people.”
The truth is I’m pretty arrogant to think that God will work through me without other people being involved. However, it’s a bigger lesson than arrogance alone. It takes us all working together to be a witness to each other and help each other grow closer to Christ. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12: 27 that “All of you [us] together are Christ body and each of you is a part of it.” Alone I stand just a part of Christ’s body, but with other people we are a whole.
“Other people” are required on my walk with Christ. Trusting God requires I take the faith step of trusting others.