Faith in People

A friend posted this recently on FB. By friend, I mean someone I actually know and see in person at times. We’ve even done some ministry work together, and I have a great deal of respect for him. Still, as much as I respect him and understand why he would share this thought, I take exception to the meme.

The person who crafted it is likely proud of what he or she created. It certainly created a bit of interest. By the time AnOldSinner saw it, almost 3,000 people “liked” it, and more than 1,500 shared it. That level of interest may not be “viral,” but it certainly beats the handful of people who comment on the average post. Additionally, there were many comments, replies and replies to replies. Some of the comments were thoughtful, and some were not, as one might expect.

AnOldSinner understands the sentiment expressed in the meme. My problem with God, His church and those who claimed to follow Him certainly came about because I did not understand the difference between believing in God and believing in the people I felt led me to Christ. I thought my father and our pastor were “men of God,” and as such they represented Him on earth. When they failed me and each other, I blamed God.

One could argue I was a foolish child at the time I started to grow angry with God. After all, I was only eleven. Everything I knew about God, faith and religion came from The Bible Story collection, and the men who led me to be baptized. As I wrote in “Flawed Messengers” several years ago, when the pastors and others who claim to be God’s representatives on earth have feet of clay, a seeker or new believer will have trouble trusting God.

That is the issue with these pithy memes and posters designed to make a point. Their point may be valid, but they can send a skewed message. They also tend to place the blame on the person who has been hurt. Comments such as this, whether online or in person, can sound sanctimonious and condescending. They are also reminiscent of the story of Job. Job was a faithful servant of God and did nothing wrong.   Yet he suffered greatly, and those around him thought he brought the suffering on himself.

Someone reading or hearing this message may feel it is saying, “You should have known better! You can’t put faith in people!” My response to those comments would be, “How could I have known better?” Whether one is eleven, sixteen or sixty, if one is seeking God, where does he or she turn? How is one supposed to know? Is general revelation enough? Does one need to experience special revelation or a visitation? Is the fact one can read the Word of God in the Bible enough?

The truth is most people depend on others to lead them to God. Yes, there are some who claim a vision came to them, and others who claim they found God simply by reading the Bible or another book. Still, in almost every case people are involved in the process in some way, and unless AnOldSinner is completely misunderstanding the teachings of Jesus, and His disciples, that is the way Jesus thought this process should work.

Another problem with this image is the inference that Psalm 118:8 supports the comment. That verse does state: “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” (ESV) Taken out of context, one can claim it supports the statement in the image, but not one of the numerous commentaries reviewed for this piece translated it in that manner. In fact, those that dealt with it at all did so in terms of conflict, possibly even warfare.1

The bottom line is this. Sayings are just that, sayings. They are not Scripture. They are probably not revelations or anymore inspired than this piece. One would hope they are meant to help others, but the reality is they likely make someone who is already suffering feel worse.

  1. For the record, there are versions of this image without the citation to Psalms.  Either way, the admonition should be used carefully, if at all.

    © AnOldSinner – 2017

About S. Eric Jackson

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