(full online service video below)
Interwoven throughout the pages of the Bible is the understanding that the fulness of life is realized when we live in the blessing of divine trust.
The foundation for understanding both fulness of life lived in the blessing of divine trust and the depravity of life lived outside of the blessing of divine trust is found in the second and third chapters of the Bible as the story of the garden of Eden is told. In this story, Adam is invited to live in a divine trusting relationship with the Creator as told in Genesis 2:15-17:
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
It only takes one chapter for the story of divine trust to become the story of human mistrust as told in Genesis 3:1-6:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.
The consequence of this decision by Adam and Eve is that the story of humanity is defined by human mistrust rather than divine trust. However, the good news is that the story of God’s divine trust is more powerful than the story of human mistrust.
Fredrick Buechner describes the story of humanity’s mistrust and the story of God’s divine trust in this way:
“The biblical view of the history of (humankind) and of each individual person is contained in the first three chapters of Genesis. We are created to serve God by loving God and each other in freedom and joy, but we invariably choose bondage and woe instead as prices not too high to pay for independence. To say that God drove Adam and Eve out of Eden is apparently a euphemism for saying that Adam and Eve like the rest of us made a break for it as soon as God happened to look the other way. If God really wanted to get rid of us, the chances are God wouldn’t have kept hounding us every step of the way ever since.”
pp. 55-56 Wishful Thinking; A Theological ABC, Frederick Buechner, Harper and Row
Today’s scripture reading from Ephesians 1:3-14 is about the power of God’s divine trust. Paul is writing to the Ephesians to remind them of God’s redemption that is offered to them through Jesus Christ. Just as the third chapter of Genesis describes the story of human mistrust, Ephesians 1:3-14 describes the story of divine trust. In 1:12, Paul writes that the story of divine trust is the story of God’s searching and redeeming love is “so that we … might live for the praise of Christ’s glory.” In 1:14, Paul writes of how God changed the story of human mistrust with the “pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu lived for the praise of Christ’s glory. He believed and taught about the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people. He died on December 26, 2021 at the age of 90.
Through the blessing of divine trust, Tutu led a movement against the racial oppression of South Africa known as apartheid. In his book, God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time, Bishop Tutu described what it was like to confront the reality of the apartheid movement through the blessing of divine trust.
“In South Africa, often people were filled with despair and they wondered whether their oppression would ever end. I had to remind people, ‘Hey, hey, hey! We are going to be free. We are not asking for permission from the rulers of our land. We know we are going to be free. ’And we knew that our oppressors had already lost. Because the Bible says that the good ruler will rule his people rightly and with justice. He will defend the poorest, he will save the children of those in need. The good ruler will crush their oppressors.
“I’m quoting from the Bible, not from the manifesto of a political party. The good ruler will redeem the lives of the needy from exploitation and outrage because their lives are precious in his sight. ,,,
“When the Defiance Campaign happened in South Africa, our people said, “You can detain us, you can ban us, you can arrest us, you can teargas us, you can turn your dogs on us, you can shoot us, you can kill some of us, but in the end, you have already had it, because ultimately freedom will win out.” You cannot hold people down forever, because people are made for something more glorious. That is what dictators and tyrants everywhere keep having to contend with. We are made for freedom. …
“Therefore, we can stand upright with our heads held high. We don’t apologize for our existence. God did not make a mistake in creating us. Our God hears. Our God cares. Our God knows and our God will come down to deliver his people everywhere. When will this deliverance from oppression, from hunger, from war happen? Today? Maybe not today. Tomorrow? Maybe not tomorrow. But God will come ‘in the fulness of time.’ Because God has a dream and God will make his dream come true through us. For we are His partners. We are the ones He has sent to free the oppressed, to feed the hungry, and to shelter the homeless. We will turn our sadness into resolve, our despair into determination.”
- 126-127, God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time, Desmond Tutu, Image Books, Doubleday
May God bless us with divine trust.
The Blessing of Divine Trust
by Pastor Marc Brown
January 2, 2022
Accompanying Scriptures: Ephesians 1:3-14
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for January 2, 2021
Scripture Lesson Ephesians 1:3-14
The Good News “The Blessing of Divine Trust”
Music “We Three Kings”
Closing Music “Allegretto” by J. Gruber