Pastor Craig Carter
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that something has gone horribly wrong in the world in which we live … and I’m not just talking about the current pandemic.
With or without reports about Covid-19, every day we hear news of sickness, famine, disasters, violence, and all manner of evil.
Who’s to blame for it all? Who’s responsible for the sad state of affairs?
Well, the simple answer is: God is … at least indirectly. Let me explain.
According to the opening chapter in the Bible, “God created human beings in his own image…” (Genesis 1:27a NLT)
One of the ways in which God made us to be like Him was by giving us a free will.
The Lord has the ability to choose His course of action and we have been given the same capacity.
So we can choose right or we can choose wrong. We can choose to live God’s way or we can choose our own way. The result is the state of the world as we now know it – the good, bad, and ugly.
Even though sin has dramatically affected our ability to choose correctly, God has still chosen to have faith in us.
That’s why, along with hope and love, faith is an enduring reality that lasts forever.
From the moment the Lord made the first man and woman, He has been a trusting God, because as we learned in a previous sermon in this series, real faith always requires trust.
Sometimes we prove worthy of His trust, and other times we don’t. But no matter what, God seems willing to deal with the consequences and continues to trust us because He values free will that much.
I think we all want to be considered trustworthy, so let’s look at some things God has entrusted to us.
Let’s go all the way back to the beginning and identify five things that God trusts us to do. First…
God trusts us to be good stewards of His creation.
The Bible claims that all that exists was made by God and belongs to Him: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” (Psalm 24:1a NLT)
But even though He made it and it all belongs to Him, He has entrusted it into our care.
He said to the first human beings, “Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (Genesis 1:28 NLT)
Then, “the Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.” (Genesis 2:15 NLT)
God has put a lot of faith in us, hasn’t He?
But remember, you and I are “chips off the old block.” That’s because we are made in God’s image and given the capacity and ability to rule over this created world.
So God takes His marvelous creation and says to us, “Go ahead, it’s all yours. It’s up to you to take care of it and decide what to do with it.”
I think it’s very clear that we haven’t always proven trustworthy in this regard. We’ve wasted precious resources and polluted the sea, sky, and ground – the dwelling places for the fish, birds, and animals.
We should want to be environmentally-conscious, not because it’s the politically correct thing to do, but because it’s an act of stewardship. To do otherwise is a violation of His trust.
Some of you are old enough to remember the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign. It came out in the 1970’s and featured a Native American who cried when he saw what his fellow citizens had done to pollute the land and waters of our great country.
I wonder if God doesn’t shed a tear sometimes when He looks at how we’re taking care of what He has made.
But He still trusts us to do the right thing and keep, not just America, but the world a beautiful place in which to live.
One way we can keep our world beautiful is by doing the second thing God trusts us to do …
God trusts us to take care of each other.
After making Adam, God reached this conclusion: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2:18 NLT)
Then the Lord told Adam and Eve to be so closely linked with one another that they should be considered “one.” God trusted them to look out for each other.
Of course, they didn’t and they ended up blaming one another when things fell apart. Later, they gave birth to sons, Cain and Abel. Jealousy ensued and the elder killed the younger.
When this happened, the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” “I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?” (Genesis 4:9 NLT)
The answer to Cain’s question was obvious: “Yes! You are to be your brother’s guardian.”
Why? Because God had trusted them to take care of each other.
Much of the harm done and hurt experienced in the world is because we have violated God’s trust in this regard.
Rather than taking care of each other and meeting one another’s needs, we abandon, betray, belittle, disregard, and denigrate others.
When treated in such ways, many persons question God and blame Him for their troubles, when in fact, His only fault is that He trusted us to do the right thing.
But, on other occasions, we show that we can be trusted by treating others with love and compassion. We see evidence of that happening right here within our congregation.
Bay County has a large number of children who have been removed from their homes and need foster care. Our congregation has decided to do something to help take care of these children. We support foster families in a variety of ways by providing financial assistance, training, prayerful encouragement, and respite assistance.
This past year, one of our member families adopted a little girl who first came into their home as a foster child and we have several other families currently serving as foster parents.
Don’t you believe God is saying, “Well done, good and faithful servants. Even though others let them down, you’re doing what I’ve trusted people to do.”
And, as the Lord said to Adam in the garden, it’s not good for people to be alone.
Yet, that’s what the coronavirus and social distancing have done to many folks. So, as a church, we’re reaching out to those who are isolated, especially the elderly.
I hear daily reports of how folks are caring for each other. I along with the rest of the staff say a great big “Thank you!” to those who are ministering to others in this way.
Perhaps you would like to be part of our congregational care ministry in a large or small way. If so, we can get you plugged in if you’ll just text careministry to 21000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Care Minister, Heather Howell, will get in touch with you and find a place for you to serve.
I trust many of you will do that since God trusts us to care for each other. That leads me to a third thing that God trusts us to do…
God trusts us to obey His commands.
God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and gave them free reign to use it and enjoy it with one restriction:
The Lord God warned, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden – except the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:16-17a NLT)
God trusted them to follow His directive but, of course, they chose not to … and they suffered the consequences.
Oftentimes we view God as some sort of “cosmic cop” who is always looking down on us or like a “helicopter parent” who constantly hovers over us, trying to orchestrate our every move.
But that’s not how God operates. Why not?
I’ve learned a lot about our relationship with the Lord through human relationships.
Have you ever thought about what happens when we try to control other people’s conduct?
For one, we’re largely unsuccessful (unless they’re compliant, then we’re really not controlling them, are we?) For another, we end up becoming resentful when they misbehave.
God loves us so much and doesn’t want to become bitter toward us so He allows us to exercise our self-will to choose to obey or not to obey His commands … even when it hurts us, hurts others, and hurts Him (greatly).
God Incarnate, Jesus Christ, once said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” (John 14:15 GNT)
The Lord desires each of us to be in a loving relationship with Him where obedience is evident.
But He doesn’t force the issue and He doesn’t make us obey. He leaves it up to us and trusts that we’ll make the right decision.
Keep in mind, however, that He does not shield us from the consequences of disobedience … just ask Adam and Eve.
As I mentioned at the outset of the message, our ability to choose correctly has been adversely affected by sin. So in order to be able to obey we need help and that comes by doing a fourth thing God trust us to do…
God trusts us to pursue a relationship with Him.
God made us in His image for one primary purpose – so that we might live in relationship with Him. We’re different from all of the rest of creation in this regard.
But even though He loves us greatly, He doesn’t force us to love Him back. That’s the nature of real love, isn’t it? God allows us to decide whether or not we want to pursue a relationship with Him.
Adam, because of his sin, chose to distance himself from the Lord:
So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8b-9 NLT)
From that time to the present, human beings have been hiding from the Lord.
All the while, He plays “hide and seek” with us, desiring for us to be found, as He calls out, “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”
When we realize that we’ve messed up the world in which we live and we haven’t taken care of those around us and we’ve failed to measure up to God’s standards, our initial tendency is to run and hide.
But God trusts we’ll come to our senses and decide to come out and pursue a relationship with Him.
He’s done all that is necessary for that to happen through a plan of salvation that He put into motion the moment Adam and Eve stumbled and fell.
That plan reached its fulfillment when God sent His Son Jesus into the world.
Through faith in Christ and His saving work on the cross, we can now enjoy a right relationship with our Heavenly Father and prove ourselves trustworthy.
When that happens, life begins to fall back into place and leads us to accomplish the final thing the Lord trusts us to do…
God trusts us to be fruitful and multiply.
The Lord created human beings in His image and “then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth…’” (Genesis 1:28a NLT)
Based on the fact there are now nearly 8 billion inhabitants of this planet, it looks like we’ve done a pretty good job of that.
But the Lord expects us not just to reproduce ourselves physically, but spiritually.
It’s why one of the last things Jesus told His followers was, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19a NLT)
In other words, be fruitful and multiply.
The Bible makes it clear that God wants no one to perish, but for all to come to faith and repentance.
But He has also left it in the hands of His people to make that dream a reality.
That is, He trusts us to go and tell others or to be fruitful and multiply.
Next Thursday, May 21, is Ascension Day which commemorates Jesus’ return to heaven 40 days after His resurrection.
Legend has it, upon His arrival, the angels greeted Christ and welcomed Him home. They were curious about what had happened down below on Planet Earth so they had all sorts of questions to ask Him:
“Did you accomplish your mission?”
Jesus answered, “Yes, I finished my Father’s work and made salvation available to all.”
So the angels inquired, “Has everyone received this salvation?”
Jesus replied, “No, not yet. I left behind my followers and told them to share the good news and preach this message to the whole world.”
The angels pressed the matter further and asked, “But what if that course of action fails? What’s your alternate plan?”
Jesus replied, “I don’t have another plan!”
The Lord God Almighty trusts that you and I are going to be fruitful and multiply. He’s depending on us taking this message of good news far and wide.
And others are depending on us to do it as well.
Once again, I’m thankful to be the pastor of a congregation that is proving trustworthy in this regard. This week we posted a video update about how we are proclaiming the gospel of Jesus locally and globally through a variety of mission efforts. If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s worth about 8 minutes of your time to see and hear how we’re impacting our world for Christ in word and in deed. You can find it at mylhumc.net/missions.
Three things last forever: faith, hope, and love.
In the coming weeks we’ll see that God’s love causes Him to have some very high hopes for us, His children.
But He also has faith in us and trusts that we’ll do what He’s asked and even commanded us to do – to be good stewards of His creation, to take care of each other, to obey Him, to pursue a relationship with Him, and to tell others about Him.
How are you measuring up? Are you proving trustworthy?
What is one thing you could do this week that would please our trusting God?