The Relational Christianity Corner (RCC) with Pastor Munya
Message 1: Combating the "Gospel" of Mistrust by Focussing on Love
Special Dedication: The following message is from my heart in two ways. First it is from my heart in the sense that the Lord revealed this word to me. I share with you only a part of all that. But, secondly, it is special to me in the sense that I have experienced what I talk about here through a very special friend who has taught me that it is possible to live a life of love and trust guided by the Holy Spirit.
This Special Friend is someone who always looks for something positive in a person that one day, I declared that they could actually go to a court of law and defend the devil and he would be acquitted. Have you ever heard the analogy of the half-full and half-empty glass of water? It has been said that how a person looks at the contents of the glass shows their attitude to life and everyone around them. If a person says the glass is half-empty, it means the person tends to be overly critical. That person would be a typical fault-finder, pessimist, diffident, person who is always negative. But the one who says the glass is half-full is the optimist. He or she always focuses on what is actually there, not what is not there. He or she goes further. To this person, the half-empty space is an opportunity not a sign of failure. My special Friend to whom I dedicate this message is the "Half-Full" type. Since the friend is pseudonymous; their name will just be Angel of Light, Ingilosi yoKukhanya, Ngirozi Yechiedza. To you my special friend; thank you for teaching me so much.
Read on and enjoy yourself. Some highlights of this message are as follows: Satan's name means "adversary, accuser!" Where's God creates all the good out of nothing, Satan creates evil out of the good! Can you imagine that Satan accused God of bad motives even though he had never been known to do evil? Can you imagine that he also found fault with Job even though he had never done evil? Can you imagine how he used those people to twist Jesus' statements about the temple and about taxes so that he would be killed? That's what we are calling the gospel of mistrust; that which creates evil out of the good. If you ever get confused about everything I say below, I want you to at least remember that I said, "Be careful how you are interpreting!!! Are you being influenced by the gospel of mistrust or of trust?" The half-full and half-empty glass show that how we interpret ultimately matters.
Scripture Reading: Genesis 3:1-7
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
- A certain man called Martin Luther, the Reformer (who lived between 1483-1546) once said, "The Lord God has made all things to depend on faith so that he who has faith has everything and he who does not have faith has nothing."
- On the face of it, the statement sounds like an unfounded wild claim; one of those irrational sweeping statements that religious leaders utter, especially when they are under the influence of what they claim to be the Holy Spirit. But another careful reflection on the statement shows that it need not even be religious for it to be true, for it is one of the most profound statements to ever be made that is relevant for those who love reason and common sense.
- Illustration: When you wake up in the morning, you have to have faith in your legs that they will carry you to the bathroom. You have to believe that the mechanics of your car are funtioning properly in order for you to drive it to work. You have to believe that the waiter at your favorite restaurant did not put some poison in your food. Faith is so common sensical tha if we tried to live just for one minute without it, we would literally freeze; we, in Luther's words, have nothing. We would be nothing too.
- Faith is trust in the goodness of the other. As such, faith is essentially very relational. Without faith, it is impossible to please God, we are told in Hebrews 11:6.
- If faith is that positive quality that enhances relationships, mistrust and doubt are not only antithetical to faith, but they create chaos in relationships; thus destroying them.
The "Gospel" of Mistrust
- In the passage we read today (see verse 4, 5 above) we read: “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” This is the earliest recorded "gospel" of mistrust. It created what the Bible calls SIN, which is also variously called "doubt," "unbelief," or "rebellion." The word "mistrust," echoes the same words, but it emphasizes the relational element. The "gospel" of mistrust is not a gospel in the true sense of the word. I use it this way because the message was presented to Eve (and Adam) as good news; it was a gospel to them. Only it taught them to mistrust God; to treat him with suspicion; or to hold him as their enemy. The "gospel" of mistrust pitted God as a threat to their self-esteem and as one responsible for every limitation they had. God was presented as a dictator; the obstinate enemy of freedom.
- So, what creates mistrust? Generally, in our day to day regular relationships, mistrust is created when someone does something that hurt us. But wait a minute, that is not wholly true. More precisely, mistrust is created when someone hurts us for no explainable reason. This point is very important because it helps us to understand how and why relationships are destroyed by what I now call the "misgospel of mistrust." Ironically, the English language comes in handy here as it puts a special spotlight on the "miss" in both gospel and trust to account for their absence which leads to chaos in individual lives, families, whole societies, and in deed, the whole universe.
- The MAIN POINT to learn from this exposition is that evil happens after mistrust, not before. In other words, mistrust creates evil; it is not a consequence of it. A typical relationship does not need to have evil happen to it before mistrust comes. Rather, mistrust creates evil in relationships, and when evil is begotten, it creates another cycle of mistrust, and on and on it goes, spreading far and wide like a whirlpool. This is why confession and forgiveness are the best ways to combat evil, but this will come later.
- Reflecting on Concrete Situations: What are the implications of this message for our day to day lives? I am sure everyone of us can relate to what I am talking about. Perhaps this applies to a woman or man who is married to an unusually insecure spouse. The spouse always comes up with wild and bizarre allegations about infidelity and other matters. Perhaps this applies to your work place. You might work with an excessively paranoid boss or supervisor or fellow workmate who is obsessed with the idea that you are after his/her position, or that you are out to destroy him or her. Perhaps this applies to a victim of racial, religious, or political prejudice, who is either discriminated against through second guessing (you know when you're talking and someone says, "yeah right?) or through bold accusations of things you have not done. Many more examples can be given here of the destructive and consuming force of mistrust. To put it more poignantly, as the Shona say, mistrust ine munhu pasi, "it can lead to loss of lives." In medieval times, they burned people at the stake who were "suspected" of witchcraft. We all know that strange looking old woman in our neighborhood whom we grew up avoiding to have close relations with because the "misgospel of mistrust" was inculcated in our minds. In one way or another, everyday of our lives, we can be victims of mistrust.
Combating Mistrust through Love
- The evil that mistrust creates can only be combated through love. This is not to say that when we love people in an environment of mistrust, this will be the silver bullet that resolves everything. Love is the foundation and the principle that creates an enabling environment for mutual trust. It only creates an enabling environment, but it does not change it automatically.
- I say love combats it because of what the Bible implies in the Genesis chapter we read above. Let us remember that Adam and Eve doubted the Everlasting Love of God. Satan told them that God has an evil motive. Although God had never done anything wrong against them; the devil used that same word to create mistrust between man and God. Adam and Eve did not stop trusting in the existence of God. They only stopped trusting in his love. This suggests that mistrust happens when one stops having a positive interpretation of the other person. The key word is "interpretation." This is so because, often, people have the mistaken notion that mistrust happens because of what the other person said or did. Yes, sometimes some people lose trust because of what they have clearly done. However, in the cases that I am reflecting on today, mistrust only happens because of "misinterpretation" of the words and deeds of another. This is the most difficult form of mistrust to deal with and it is also the most destructive because this form of mistrust operates underground like a molten volacanic lava. It burns in the form of fear, suspicion, gossip, lies, slander, sarcasm, paranoia, leading to impulsive decisions and a strong determination to cut ties.
- This is what happened with Adam and Eve. They made the impulsive decision of eating of the forbidden tree; they did not even wait to consult with God. They hid and were not willing to talk with HE whose company they had enjoyed before. Also, for the first time, they were not transparent; they introduced sarcasm, lies, and "political correctness" to the hitherto wholesome fellowship they had had with God and with each other. Because of the absence of love, they became slanderous against each other.
- Trust and wholesome relationships are restored when focus is placed on love. And what is love? Love, by any other definition, always means, "Other-centered." Whether it's romantic love, or brotherly love, or any other kind of love; it always has to be oriented towards the well-being of the other. Love is a verb; not just a noun. It does those caring things which create and combat mistrust. Love, as Paul describes it below, is simply deep care:
I Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy,
it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Post your comments and questions below or contact me at: email@example.com