This and That

I keep meeting people, Christian people, often in their 40s or 50s, who carry a disturbing question within them. It doesn’t emerge quickly. They’re usually cautious with it. It’s not a safe question to ask. But it dwells deep down, in a place that is largely suppressed but which emerges in moments of sincere reflection. And sometimes, in hushed tones, behind closed doors, with pleas for confidentially, it slips out.

“Is this all there is?”

TrustYears, sometimes decades, of church attendance, sermon-listening, small group participation, and even sacrificial service have not always put that question to bed. There remains that nagging sense that Jesus might have intended something more.

And then I meet other people, Christian people, young people—college students—who carry a similarly disturbing question. They tend to be more vocal and more open with it. They have grown up watching the Christian adults around them. Oftentimes those adults have battled addictions (porn, drugs, alcohol, or gambling). Those young folk watch Christian adults abandon their marriages, pilfer from their workplaces, gossip, criticize, and get overwhelmed by stress. They watch their parents spend beyond their means, argue over petty issues, and feed on media violence and sex. And they quietly whisper:

“Is that all there is?”

And there we have it; two generations (parents and their growing kids) who wonder if faith really makes a difference. They often share a common hunger for something more spiritually nourishing, more spiritually satisfying, more spiritually transforming.

The rise of civil religion, the compartmentalization of faith, and biblical illiteracy all play their part in producing a shallow and hollow Christian experience. We could also explore the role of vacuous pulpits, inadequate pastoral leadership, and drifting colleges and seminaries.

But I wonder if the most basic cause might be hiding in plain sight.

What might happen if we changed a single word in the English Bible? Just one word; and took it to heart? Keep the original Greek language intact. Indeed, enhance it and clarify it by changing our translation of just one word. Here’s my proposal—push the word “faith” to the sidelines and replace it instead with the word “trust.” Think of every Bible text that you know with the word “believe” or “faith” in it, and change it to “trust.” It changes everything, for the better!

As followers of Jesus, we don’t believe that. We trust in. There’s a world of difference. Belief doesn’t cause us to flourish. Trust does.

“Is this all there is?”

“Is that all there is?”

Today a CBS lead news article declared that the “none” category now exceeds any specific religious affiliation category in the United States. Is it possible that our disillusionment (and abandonment) reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of this core Christian term?

Whoever trusts in Him will not perish but have a flourishing (everlasting) life (John 3:16).

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15 Responses to This and That

  1. John Bond says:

    Fantastic reflection David.
    Can I use this on my radio programme with due reference to your authorship?
    God Bless Mate – I will try and catch up with you in early November.
    Yours in Seeking to make a Kingdom Impact


    Minister @ Large Sonlife DCPI Compassion
    Lifestreams Christian Church Director World Zone Leader Chairman
    Office: 61 8 9450 7614
    Mobile: 0417 965 119

  2. Elaine says:

    Maybe. I have this all wrong, how do you trust in someone or something you don’t believe?
    I like this blog, just trying to understand. Getting a reader to think is a good thing, thank you, David.

    • David Timms says:

      Elaine, you are quite correct that we can only trust that which we know. My hunch is that some of us stop at the “knowing” (believing) and don’t move into the active life of trusting. As a pastor I used to ask people to make “the good confession of faith” which went like this — “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.” These days I’d rather reword it (without any violence to Scripture) to be: “I trust my life to Jesus who is the Christ, the Son of the living God.” There’s an important difference. Make sense?

  3. Debbie Heim says:

    Thanks David…I am going to do that during my Bible Study…change the words to “trust”. Also when I talk to myself or others, I am going to change the words to “trust”….I think it will help me change my thinking and unbelief…I’ll admit it, I do have unbelief sometimes….I asked Jesus to help my unbelief, and He answered in your message today!!

  4. Cheri Cancelliere says:

    Your reflection contains such a profound and “bottom line” insight. Belief implies a creed. Trust implies a relationship. When we have a real and living relationship with the Lord of the universe, the hand that is always in ours reassures, “For I know the plans I have for you…”

    • David Timms says:

      Cheri, you’re absolutely right. The security and companionship of that relationship would rarely leave us asking “Is this all there is?” Thanks for the creed / relationship contrast.

  5. markskrause says:

    Great blog, Dave. I have long thought that “faith” is a confusing translation for the Greek pistis word group because it is theologically loaded and perhaps tainted. I like translating it “faith,” because I think that is the essence of the word.

    • David Timms says:

      Thanks for the note, Mark. I agree that we have loaded (or unloaded) the word through various stages of church history. It’ll be fun to chat with the apostle Paul about it one day! 🙂

  6. Tim Riter says:

    A nice dictional distinction, entirely within the original words, and much more effective. Is that the genesis of a book concept? It should be, David!

  7. Greg Newman says:

    Thanks David, as one of my grandfathers in the faith would say, “That’ill preach!”

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