July 17, 2022 reflection
I know that we often say the basis of a true relationship is love, but for me, it always comes down to trust. I may love someone that I don’t trust, but it’s nearly impossible to have a healthy relationship with that person. We want to have relationships with people who do what they say they will, and who are honest, even if it results in pain. Of course, we also want to trust that people will do their best not to hurt us. And we want to be trustworthy ourselves.
Today’s verses reminded me about this because they talk about promises. In the Old Testament, God has promised that Abraham will have descendants. As Abraham and Sarah get older, this promise seems to be less and less likely to be fulfilled. In the verses we heard today, three men — or angels — visit Abraham’s home. Abraham, recognizing their importance, takes his ragged old body and runs arounds the camp preparing them a wonderful feast. They predict Sarah will have a child from Abraham — and we learn later that the prediction comes true!
In the Psalm, we hear the question of “Who may abide in your tabernacle?” And we learn that you have to be a good and honest person. The psalmist makes it sound easy, but we know that it’s often very difficult to do what is right. Still, there’s a promise here that admission to the tent is attainable.
In the Epistle, Paul tells the Collossians that Jesus Christ has created a new promise, not only for Jews but for everyone who believes, and the evidence is something even more miraculous than Sarah’s old-age maternity — the rising from the dead of a man who was crucified and buried, and then his ascendance into heaven. But the proof also is in Paul’s and the other apostles’ dogged determination and willingness to sacrifice all because of their trust in Christ’s teachings and his instructions to them. Jesus was honest. He told them that following him would lead to anguish and pain, but he also promised that their end would be ever-lasting joy and peace. I think they understood that He loved them and wanted only the best for them, but that the reaction to their message would be mixed. He told them he would be with them even in their darkest times, provided they kept their faith, something that isn’t always easy.
The Bible is clear that evil exists in the world. Bad things happen to good people, but the New Testament promises that we are never alone with this evil. Even when we do evil ourselves, there is a way to get back under the tent.
In the Gospel, we hear the story of Mary and Martha. Luke says Jesus was welcomed into Martha’s home. She, as head of the household, was responsible for the well-being of her guests, just as Abraham was when he received his miraculous visitors. Imagine how his story would have been if Abraham skipped the banquet and went straight to sitting at their feet asking about salvation!
But I think that’s one of the differences between the Old and New Testaments. Jesus doesn’t berate Martha for her concern, but tactfully lets her know that the old rules, even the rules of hospitality, are different now — not bad, not worthless — but different. Mary has made better use of her time by listening to Jesus, while Martha has wasted an opportunity with her worry. There’s a new promise that will change everything so that both Mary and Martha can rely on salvation.
Finally, these thoughts made me wonder about the difference between trust and faith. According to my phone, “faith” is used in the sense of belief or devotion, while the word “trust” is about confidence and reliance. It’s hard to argue with Siri, but I think she got it wrong this time. As Christians, we have the belief and devotion that inspires our sense of confidence and reliance. I don’t think you can have one without the other. It was faith AND trust that inspired Abraham and Paul and even Mary and Martha. Amen.