Thursday, June 21, 2007

Is it sin to trust too much?

A few of the April SFF Blog Tour participants claimed that the way I portrayed Abramm in Return of the Guardian King as continually trusting Eidon in the face of great danger was, indeed, sinful. The objection, I believe, was that Abramm used his trust to justify a reckless charge into danger and that this was not honoring to God. This claim was based on the fact that when Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Mt 4) and told to prove He was the son of God by throwing himself off the pinnacle of the Temple Mount -- a drop of some 450 feet -- and let the angels catch him, Jesus refused. "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God," He said.

I have encountered various interpretations of this passage over the years but the one that makes the most sense to me is not that this is a caution against abandoning common sense to do pointlessly risky and dangerous things for no reason other than to do them. Rather, in all three of the temptations mentioned in Mt 4, Jesus was being tempted to stop relying solely on the power system God had provided Him in his humanity and to instead switch over to using His deity, which would have right then rendered His trip to the cross null and void. Maybe He still would have made it, but as He would have sinned -- chosen His own will and His own power over the one the Father had provided for Him as a man -- He couldn't have served as the holy and righteous sacrifice needed to pay for our sins.

None of us will ever be tempted to turn stones into bread to appease our hunger, but we are routinely tempted to use our own human power rather than rely upon God to solve our problems. We turn to the world, to "Egypt" with its powerful armies, chariots and horses. We turn to other people, hoping they can bring us comfort, promote us, hold us up, make us feel better, bring us happiness. We try to rely upon ourselves, our own good works, or good sense or determination and self-control to achieve our goals and find happiness. The ways we are tempted in this area are myriad. And like Jesus we must refuse such sources of "help" and rely upon God to supply our needs.

Which was pretty much what Abramm was doing. In fact, in most cases he wasn't even trying to fulfill his own needs but those of others. To see someone else's need and know that you have some ability, or at least the opportunity to try to fulfill it and that such action would be consistent with scripture, and further to believe that God has led you to that very moment of choice, then to decide to go forward with it would hardly be a sin. If the action appears to have no hope of succeeding by sight, or human conjecture, if the world says to forget it, it will never work, you'll all die, etc... well, how is that any different than what the Jews faced at the Red Sea? Or David with Goliath? Or Gideon and his 300 men facing 135,000 Midianites?

To go forward not by confidence in self, but confidence that 1) God is able to make His will known to you and 2) that He is able and will keep His promises to provide, protect and do the work He's called you to do, and see that in His timing you'll have everything you need to carry it out... I don't see that as sin. I see that as living the Christian life.