By Will Whyte

“Do you trust me?” What a powerful question. This question has been asked in countless scenarios across time. For me, I can’t help but think of movie scenes where this question was posed. As a kid I remember Aladdin, on his magic carpet, reaching his hand out to Jasmine and saying, “do you trust me?” Or that scene in Titanic, as Jack and Rose stand at the front of the ship, and with Celine Dion singing “My Heart Will Go On” in the background, Jack asks Rose “do you trust me?” Or my personal favorite, that scene in Terminator 2, when a building is surrounded by police officers, the Terminator says, “I’ll take care of the police.” Little John Connor pipes up and says, “Hey wait, you swore [you wouldn’t kill anyone],” to which the Terminator looks back, gives a smirk and says, “trust me” (spoiler alert, he does not hurt any of the police officers). Lastly, for fans of the Marvel series, there is that scene in Avengers: Endgame where Tony Stark (Iron-man) and Steve Rogers (Cpt. America) decide to put their past frustrations behind them in order to save the world once again. This past broken relationship between two friends takes a massive step forward when Tony devises a plan that requires Steve’s help and those famous words are uttered “Do you trust me?” to which Steve replies “I do.” In each of these scenarios (and every scenario) the giving of trust progresses or deepens the relationships. The opposite is also true, a withdraw of trust will lead to a regression, or a weakening, of relationships.

Trust is the bedrock of any given human relationship and without trust humans cannot develop or grow, and relationships cannot move forward. Your ability to read this post and think about it is the product of trust. For example, you learned language and how to talk as a baby because you implicitly trusted your parents when they pointed to an object and pronounced a word that you then repeated. From then on, I can only assume that you trusted teachers when they taught you what letters sounded like, how they were pronounced, and taught you how to read. People cannot develop in any capacity without some level of trust.

Many or all you I assume have heard or used the phrase “pride comes before the fall.” As I do not know the origin of this phrase I can only wonder if its use derives from what Christian’s refer to as “original sin.” This is the commonly held belief that pride led to the downfall of humanity in the garden of Eden. What if I told you that a close reading of the biblical text may disagree with this belief. Don’t get me wrong, pride is bad, and was definitely a part of humanity’s downfall. Pride is a symptom of original sin and it played a key role, but pride did not initially get us into this whole mess. Pride rose up when humanity’s trust in God was broken. Let’s look at the biblical text.

A Wonderful World – Genesis 1 – 2

 Genesis 1 and 2 outlines the order and beauty of God’s creation. It also outlines the roles and responsibility of humans in this creation. The first two chapters of the Bible illustrate the ideal – the harmonious relationship between the King (God) and his images, his vice regents, humans. In fact, the words used to describe the humans paint the picture of kings and queens who have a priestly function. The responsibility to “rule” and “subdue” are royal terms and the responsibility to “work” and “keep” the garden are priestly terms (see Num 3:8). God has provided shelter, food and companionship for the humans and given them responsibility – what a wonderful world. And then…

The Encounter - Genesis 3:1

Genesis 3 opens with this verse

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

(Genesis 3:1)

The serpent’s weapon of attack was to plant the seed of doubt/mistrust in God’s image bearers – “did God really say?” What reason or evidence did Eve have to even wonder whether or not God was trustworthy? Why would she ever have to think about trusting what God has said, or his character? In fact, God had previously told humanity that,

“You may freely eat of any tree in the Garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For when you eat of it you will be doomed to die.”

(Genesis 2:16–17)

Let’s compare these statements:

God: “you may freely eat of any tree…”

Serpent: “Did God really say, ‘you shall not eat of any tree…”

The obvious answer is, “NO, he did not say that!” BUT Eve, much like us, feeds off that seed of doubt. She lets it grow into accusation. And her trust in God begins to slowly crumble. This can be seen in her response, as she replies,

“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said. ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you drop dead.’”

(Genesis 3:2-3)

Go back and read Genesis 2:16–17. Did God ever say that the humans could not touch the tree? No, he did not! Did God say that if they touched it they would instantly die, as in “drop dead”? No, he did not. God said if they ate from the tree they would open themselves up to the reality of death, they would be “doomed to die.” Eve takes the bait of doubt and builds on it as she puts words in God’s mouth, turning him from a generous God of provision into a God of unreasonable prohibition. We’ve all done this as kids, Mom says “you cannot ride your bike today,” but we hear and say, “mom said I can never ride my bike again!” This is childish behavior, but we still struggle with this. How often do we fail to focus on all that God has given and instead dwell on one thing that he has not provided yet?

During this unprecedented season of anxiety, worry, and a definite lack of control, is the enemy whispering these deceitful questions in your ear? Has he been pointing out things, slightly twisting your perspective with half-truths, or with his cynical viewpoint attached?

Do you find yourself wondering, maybe even asking questions? That is ok! BUT we must not move from asking questions to accusing God, do not let that seed of doubt get planted and grow in your mind. DO NOT BE LIKE THE FIRST HUMANS at this point. Original sin began by adopting a false and negative view of God.

This week go back over scriptures that speak of God’s character. My favorites are Exodus 34:6–7 and Psalm 103. Recite these out loud, over and over, until their truth seeps into your bones! Trust God. Trust his good character, trust that he provides. This is where it all crumbled in the beginning, and this is the invitation God give us…WILL YOU TRUST ME!

Stay tuned for Part 2...