We have a set of new chairs at our church. They look robust and comfortable, and I believe that they will hold my weight, but just believing that doesn’t mean very much. For my belief in the chairs to be of any real value I need to trust my backside to them and sit down. That’s what chairs are for. If I do lower my rear end onto a new chair, I will be taking a risk. If it isn’t robust, I might end up on the floor in an undignified clatter of broken wood. It's a risk. But it's a risk I have to take or my faith in the manufacturer will be nothing more than a pointless waste of money.
In the Christian faith we talk a lot about believing in Jesus. That’s only a start, like ordering a chair on the internet, believing it will be what is needed. The next stage is the critical one: trusting our lives to Jesus’ message and teaching. That’s the risky part. If it doesn’t work, we might end up on the floor in an undignified clatter of broken expectations.
Jesus' message was real-world insight, not a selection of fanciful sacred mysteries. He told people they could trust God’s love and forgiveness, that they didn’t need to be afraid of breaking religious rules or missing religious rituals. He taught that the only thing which ultimately matters is loving and forgiving the people around us. Jesus was liberating people from the fear and oppression of overbearing religion, and drawing them into real-world relationship with his loving heavenly father.
In today’s world we have different fears. We fear that life may be meaningless, that we may just be a cosmic accident. We fear that if we are not happy, we might be wasting our lives. We need to trust Jesus. Life does have meaning; we are loved; and the purpose of life is to love other people, not just ourselves.
If we lean on these principles, we risk failure. Trust always involves risk. But my experience is that Jesus’ teaching, when put to real-world test, won’t let you down.