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I am deeply grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord (to whom I owe that I have accomplished) for trusting me enough to appoint me to his ministry.  1 Timothy 1:12 (Phillips Translation)

 


I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 
1 Timothy 1:12 (NIV)

Have you ever been shocked by what a passage of Scripture seemed to say?  I don’t mean merely surprised a bit by some new insight or nuance – I mean stunned!

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that the Word of God might shock us – blast away at some favorite conception of ours, shatter a preconception.  In fact, probably it is a sign we are not really “hearing” the Word, when it does not arrest us or clash with our presumptions.  For me it was this passage in 1 Timothy where Paul was writing to Timothy, reflecting on God’s work in his life, and he talks about “trust.”

Now, as you might suspect, it was not the notion of “trust” itself which was troubling.  I had heard about trust all my life – and sung about it too.  “Trust and obey for there’s no other way,” or “Simply trusting everyday.”  I had even seen little momentos that glowed in the dark that talked about trusting the Lord.

But this passage was so different that at first I didn’t believe it.  The translation where I first encountered it was Phillips, and I thought he must have fudged a bit.  So I checked the other translations, even the Greek.  But wherever I checked, the point was the same.

The passage did indeed say not that we ought to trust God, but that GOD TRUSTS US.  Paul tells Timothy that the amazing thing in his life is the realization that God had indeed commissioned him, trusted him – and called him to faithfully fulfill that trust.  He was a trustee of the gospel – its care and protection were entrusted to him.

That seemed so radical a conception.  How repeatedly I had felt that while God was trustworthy, we were nothing – untrustworthy.  We had no fiduciary capacity – “worms” was what Newton called us in his famous hymn, “Amazing Grace.”  But consider this little story – like all sermon illustrations, you are entitled to a degree of skepticism about its veracity.

On returning from earth, the Lord was met with by a joyous band of angels to whom he recounted all the events of his incarnation – the miracles, teaching and finally, to a hushed assembly, the events of the last week, and the triumphant day of resurrection.  The good news has now been released into the world.

One angel asked how this message was going to be promulgated since our Lord had now returned to heaven’s glory.  Jesus told the angels he had commissioned his disciples to proclaim the good news, to go into all the world and make disciples.  The angels buzzed with enthusiasm and approval.  But a hush came over them as one little angel raised a wing and seemed to wish to pursue the matter.  “What if they don’t do it?  What if they grow weary?  What’s the backup plan?  The Lord paused and angels grew nervous, but the Lord finally said.  “There is no other plan.  I am counting on them.”

In that little apocryphal story is, it seems, the sense of Paul.  God was indeed counting on him. He was called, entrusted.

The more I thought about that notion, that God trusts us – the more it really became self-evident, though I had missed it for so long.  He trusts us with our marriages – calling on us to nurture and care for one another; He trusts us with our children; He trusts us with the care of creation; He trusts us to be the church – a fellowship of love and care.  He trusts us with the gospel.  We’re placed in the specific places and in specific times – and we, in those places, are the Gospel.  We are entrusted to represent the Lord – his gracious character and invitation.  We are His body.

Even consider this radical truth: He trusts us so much He asks us to use His own name – to do things in His name.  Now how much trust does it take before we would let someone else simply use our name – in all their transactions and duties – do them in our name.  Yet this is what the Lord has done!

What a transforming, energizing truth – God trusts us.

Lynn R. Buzzard

 

– This article comes from AI’s devotional for lawyers titled, “What Does the Lord Require of You?”

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