Seminary feels like a long time ago. And while seven years isn’t really that long, it’s long enough to forget the map that I memorized for an Old Testament quiz. (Sorry, Dr. Garber!) I’ve misplaced Dr. Younger’s “33 Rules for Successful Sermons.” My introduction to theology class shifted how I understand faith—but I’ve forgotten how. What might be surprising, then, is how much encouragement I continue to wring out of what I learned in Church History.
The Christian Church has a complicated and fascinating history because it is a divine project with human limitations. Often led by saints and servants, at its best the Church has been flexible, adaptive, contextual, and responsive to the needs of the day. It has often been an instrument of grace and hope.
But it has also been used as a weapon of power that harms. It’s tempting to give up on the Church sometimes, or to become disillusioned or jaded by this institution. How amazing that God would invest so much energy and effort to sustain something that often seems broken and dysfunctional. So, on days when church feels hard, looking at the past reminds me that God’s Spirit is still weaving itself through the Church in spite of our human limitations. One day, the weak human institution will fall away and perish, and God’s Kingdom will come in its fullness, on earth as in heaven.
The psalmist reminds us: Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish (vv. 3-4). Instead, we should trust God’s eternal faithfulness, goodness, and longsuffering. Forever and ever, praise the Eternal One.
How do we learn to put our trust in God instead of in ourselves and others? How has God been faithful to us?
God of eternity, teach me to trust you above all others. May I sing your praises as long as I live. Amen.