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Categorized | From the Pulpit

Trust and unity

By Pastor Larry French

Cedar Springs United Methodist

140 S. Main St, Cedar Springs

Meeting virtually on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Cedar-Springs-United-Methodist-Church-1922317694647623

Mark, while not the first gospel as the New Testament books are ordered, is the oldest and therefore first to tell the story of Jesus and His ministry. The first words we have from Jesus is him “saying, ‘Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives and trust this good news!’” (Mark 1:15 CEB).

“And trust this good news!” is a big ask right from the beginning. But we have four Gospels and the book of Acts filled with the teachings, miracles, and acts of Jesus that lead us into a place of trust in him, so therefore we can trust in his good news.

Mistrust is an epidemic sweeping our country and it is more widespread than even the coronavirus.  Where can we turn to find trustworthy relationships and sources of information? One place we can turn is our local church and the larger body of Christ.   While our national leaders are calling for unity, how can we strengthen the trust we have in each other, which is the foundation upon which unity is built?  How can we expand the trust we enjoy in our local church to others outside the Church as we advance the healing and restorative message of the Gospel?

I recently read an article by Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D., on PsychologyToday.com entitled “How to Trust People Again: 7 ways to rebuild your faith in humanity.” Dr. Hendriksen began the piece with “Fear of trust is so common it’s an official phobia: pistanthrophobia—a big name for an equally big problem. And while not trusting anyone keeps you safe from hurt and betrayal, it also leaves you isolated and suspicious. How does this happen? How does one lose faith in humanity? And how can you find it again?” The article goes on to describe the ways in which we can lose trust in those close to us, or in society in general, and then Dr. Henriksen lists seven ways in which we can work to regain trust.   

I have three suggestions that may help us to strengthen and grow our trust in each other, the local community, and beyond:

Hold multi-congregational events and activities. Even in this time of COVID we can look for ways to connect multiple congregations in interdenominational settings.  Showing commonality and fellowship between local denominations will strengthen the overall sense of community.

Promote each other’s ministries. All of the local churches have ministries focused on strengthening those in the local community that need help. Promoting each other’s ministries can only help to get the word out on what help is available locally and will also let community members know about the good things happening locally.

Communicate with each other regarding our differences. We must begin to have dialogue over our differences. If we don’t talk openly about the differences between us, then overcoming any divide that leads us to perceive barriers to fellowship and community may begin to seem insurmountable. If anyone is interested in partnering with me to hold a series of forums, designed specifically to create a safe space in which to discuss our differences, please contact me at pastorlarryfrench@gmail.org.

Dr. Hendriksen wraps it all up with, “when you start to align yourself with trustworthy people and you see yourself acting like someone who trusts that the world is mostly good and people are mostly trustworthy, you start to believe it. And that is a crucial leap of faith in learning to trust again.”

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