This past weekend, I had the opportunity to serve as a chaperone for the DFW area Middle School “Recess” Retreat. It was a great weekend with 250 middles schoolers from all over the metroplex, but I missed being with my church family! Like some of you, I had to catch up on the latest message in the Grand Tour sermon series online. You can listen to this week’s message here or catch up on the whole series (or any past series) here.
In this, the second week in the “Grand Tour” series in which we are visiting some of the major themes that are woven throughout Scripture, Pastor Tom unpacked the command and promise or “covenant” language used by God to establish relationship with his people.
The question Pastor Tom asked us to consider this week was, “What are you putting your trust in?” Maybe you have already been giving that question some thought this week as I have.
In the message, Pastor Tom reminded us of the conditional aspect of the early Old Testament covenants between God and his people. Each came with both a command and a promise. To Abraham: “Go and I will bless you”. To the children of Israel: “Obey me and I will treasure you and be your God”. The promise in each case seemed conditional upon the keeping of the command; sort of an “if/then” relationship.
This struck me again as I considered the question of what I put my trust in because if I’m being totally honest with myself, I think I kind of like if/thens. They make sense to me. They are even comfortable. Using if/then kind of thinking works for me because it allows me to put my trust in myself and my own abilities. It makes me feel like I’m in control. IF I do my part, THEN everything will be okay.
IF I get up early enough, THEN I’ll be able to get everything accomplished on my to do list and everything will be right with my world.
IF I am kind to others, THEN they will be kind to me.
IF I plan and organize and leverage enough, THEN everything will go according to my plan.
IF I read the right leadership books and listen to the right podcasts, THEN I will be effective in ministry.
IF I never raise my voice and get everyone where they are supposed to be on time and help with homework and get a healthy meal on the table once in a while and get everyone to church every Sunday, THEN I will end up with healthy, well-adjusted kids.
I like to use if/then conditional language with myself because I like order and crave control and the if/then lies I tell myself give me the illusion of control over my surroundings and the false hope that if I just do my part, then I can create my own desired outcome.
But in reality, this if/then kind of thinking is just another way of making myself and my own abilities an idol. If/then thinking allows me to put my trust in myself and in the end those kind of false promises to myself never end well. My end of the bargain is never perfectly upheld. The harsh reality is that IF me being loved, treasured and forgiven were directly connected to my obedience, faithfulness and skill level, THEN I would be in serious trouble. Eternal trouble, in fact.
Which is why I desperately needed to be reminded of what Pastor Tom shared next. He reminded us that the conditional aspect of our covenant relationship with God (the IF) was nailed to the cross. That “the empty tomb testifies that the transition has been made from conditional to unconditional on our behalf.” Thanks to the saving work of Jesus, the promises of God have been fulfilled through Jesus and are mine forever. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. As Hebrews 8 reminds us, God has said “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
So what about you? What are you trusting in? Share with us on social media or in person.