Posted by: Dan | November 25, 2004

Trusting God and Loving Others

Psyche bit her lip till the blood came and wept bitterly. I thought she felt more grief than the wailing Orual. But that Orual had only to suffer; Psyche had to keep on her way as well. She kept on; went on out of sight, journeying always further into death. That was the last of the pictures.
The Fox and I were alone again.
“Did we really do these things to her?” I asked.
“Yes. All here's true.”
“And we said we loved her.”
“And we did. She had no more dangerous enemies than us.”

– C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

The faith we claim to profess is illusory unless it is demonstrated in our relationships with others. Anyone who has stopped to consider the nature of faith has realised this.

However, I think there is one area in particular where the implications of this have been overlooked. Perhaps we have been too scared to consider such implications, but our refusal to do so has been devastating.

Here's the thing. Christians tend to profess a personal trust in God, they recognise that times of suffering may come but they feel called to love enemies, bless instead of curse, give the thief more than he imagined to steal, that sort of thing. Yet, when it comes to our loved ones, it seems like a completely different standard applies. You know, strike me and I'll turn the other cheek but if you touch my beloved I'll kill you… slowly. There's a double standard that exists. I trust my life to God but don't trust the one's I love to God. I can't help but wonder how much we've fooled ourselves into thinking we've trusted God with our own lives when we don't trust God with the lives of others.

Of course, we don't have to look too far to realise how harmful this way of thinking can be. That's how we end up with “just wars”. That's why Christians in America are impotent to prevent things like the war in Iraq… and in fact actually end up supporting that war.

Now, even as I come to recognise this I'm not too comfortable with the implications. I mean, I don't want the people I love to be hurt. I want to stop them from being hurt in whatever ways I can. It's like I've recognised that I carry a cross if I follow Jesus, but I do all I can to prevent the people I love from even realising what a cross is. However, as I learn to trust others to God it means I actually allow people I love to go into situations where they might be hurt. Sometimes it even means I allow people I love to continue in places where they have been hurt. I just come alongside of them and hurt with them instead of doing all I can to bail them out. It's no longer about taking the cross off their shoulders, it's about helping them carry it because new life is found on the other side. Only on the other side of crucifixion is there resurrection.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting anything close to turning a blind eye to abuses or encouraging people to return again and again to places where they are dehumanised. To do that is to repeat another mistake which, to our everlasting shame, has been made over and over again within the church. After all, in order to regain its prophetic voice the church must once again begin crying out on behalf of the oppressed and abandoned and journeying in genuine love relationship with them.

It's just that we must do so in a way that resolves this double-standard. We need to learn again what it means to trust God as we journey in love relationships with others.

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