Most of us are at least familiar with the Ten Commandments. It’s a list of all the dos and don’ts laid down by God. That’s how we often see it.
But really what they mostly are is about how to live together in a healthy and safe community. They are all about trust. Trust God. Trust that God is with you, wants the best for you, can be relied on. And then you don’t need other gods like wealth, might, and powerful leaders. Trust your family, care for each other–parents care for children, children care for parents. Trust one another–that no one will cheat or steal or harm or try to take what you have and hold dear. Care for each other in your community. Care for yourselves (that’s one of the gifts of Sabbath.)
The awful thing about a crime is not only the act itself, but the way in which it destroys trust. Ask anyone who has had their house burgled. Sure there are things taken that they will miss and are upset are gone. But the greatest thing taken is their trust–trust that their home is safe, that others will not harm or steal.
And we know that people who live without trust, people whose experience as children or life circumstances have curtailed their ability to trust, are deeply harmed by this. They live with anxiety, despair, fear or may even act in ways that harm others in an attempt to protect themselves.
Trust is an essential aspect of discipleship: trust in God, trust in each other, trust in ourselves. In a community of faith, we need to know in our hearts that we can trust one another, that no one is out to harm us, that when we are weak or hurting, we will be held not ridiculed. Gossip is known in scripture as a sin. A sin is anything that separates us from God and each other. Gossip does this in spades. Gossip is a betrayal of trust, a demeaning of another person, a slow poisoning of the Body. Being judgemental is the same thing, a demeaning of another, a form of exclusion.
So the first step is kind of a negative one: let’s practise setting aside those thoughts and words that might be hurtful, demeaning, or a betrayal of another person. And please, forgive yourself when you have these thoughts. We all do. But with practise, we learn to set them aside more easily and just tell them to get lost! We want to be people who can be trusted, who have compassion, integrity, and credibility.
The positive step is learning to grow in trust: considering all the ways God has been faithful, has cared for us, and been with us. Growing in trust for God also involves deepening our relationship with our Creator–through scripture, prayer, discussion, and spiritual practices. A good place to start is simply by reading the Psalms. You’ll find there not only praise, but lament, anger, confusion and hope, all sung from the heart before God.
And we need to learn to trust one another. We want to be people of faith who shine the Christ light, people who can be trusted to be loving, challenging, nurturing, healing and hopeful. This work is a lot harder for those who have not learned trust as children or have had their trust damaged. Surround yourself with trustworthy people. Frankly, if you are in a community of faith beset by gossip and judgement and betrayals of confidence, find another community where there is trust and joy–there are many. Learn and relearn the stories of Jesus, of his life, of how he related to other people, of what he said, of his trust in God.
Being with disciples of Jesus who are trustworthy, diligent, forgiving, compassionate, and authentic is a true gift. You can let go of the burden of having to carry everything yourself, you can let go of so much anxiety, you can know that if you stumble, someone will be there to help you along and walk beside you, you can experience transformation and hope. Trust is a gift of God. Trust is a gift we give each other. Trust is one of the greatest gifts we give our children.
And it enables us to be like children in trust, putting ourselves into God’s hands, delighting when God throws us in the air–knowing absolutely that we will be caught and held.