What would you say is the key to true prosperity? Not peace, in this fallen world we will always have trouble, but prosperity? Money is usually people’s first answer, most things are typically better when you have money. Others would say knowledge, citing ignorance as our greatest enemy. A third group might argue for a strong work ethic, claiming that nothing can be achieved without effort.
Bruce Wydick of Christianity Today believes it’s something much more specific: Trust. According to his latest article,
“Trust and its inseparable counterpart, trustworthiness, are themes that run strongly throughout Scripture. Trustworthy people are continually held in high esteem throughout the Bible (Exod. 18:20, Neh. 13:13, Dan. 6:4, Luke 19:17, 1 Cor. 4:2, 1 Tim. 3:11). Trust and trustworthiness are fundamental to healthy relationships; they are hallmarks of spiritual maturity. But academic research has only recently begun to grasp why they are so fundamental to economic prosperity.”
Wydick argues that social, political, and economical trust are essential to the prosperity of communities. He points to the small village of Ozxzca, Mexico as an example, detailing how a rampant abuse of power has left the community divided. Throughout the article, Wydick asserts that the Church must stand as an example of truth. In his eyes, our obligation to Christ must supersede even our relationships with family. He writes,
“Here is where the influence of a Christian ethos is most powerful in the establishment of trust: In the context of a genuine Christian commitment, the greater ethical claims toward 1) God and 2) Neighbor supersede the claims of family (Mark 12:31, Luke 14:26). Indeed a summary of New Testament teaching is anything but a ‘focus on the family.’ It is an ethical focus that lies primarily outside of the family. Jesus calls for an ethos that supersedes loyalty to close kin. His mother and brothers were ‘those who hear the word of God and put it into practice’ (Luke 18:21). The injured man for whom the Samaritan risks his life is not a member of his family or tribe (Luke 10:33). Jesus mocks the reciprocity that exists within social networks, correctly identifying this apparently beneficent behavior as a mere illusion of altruism: ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them’ (Luke 6:32).”
In order to follow Christ, we must have genuine love for others, and there can be no genuine love until there is first genuine trust. This puts the Church in a new and awkward situation. Where once Christians were seen with respect and admiration, modern Christians are viewed with suspicion and fear. The gradual shift of society, and several mistakes on our part, have eroded the integrity of the Church. To make things right, correction is needed.
Remember the words of Christ in Matthew 25, and remember that true love and trust often go hand-in-hand.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' ‘Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' ‘The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” - Matthew 25:35-41
What about you? Do you think the Church needs to build more trust?
*Ryan Duncan is the Entertainment Editor for Crosswalk.com