Skip to main content

The Only Ground


Romans 5: 1-11 (CJB)
5 So, since we have come to be considered righteous by God because of our trust, let us continue to have shalom with God through our Lord, Yeshua the Messiah. 2 Also through him and on the ground of our trust, we have gained access to this grace in which we stand; so let us boast about the hope of experiencing God’s glory. 3 But not only that, let us also boast in our troubles; because we know that trouble produces endurance, 4 endurance produces character, and character produces hope; 5 and this hope does not let us down, because God’s love for us has already been poured out in our hearts through the Ruach HaKodesh who has been given to us.


I want to talk about the difference between the word ‘faith’ or ‘belief’ and the word ‘trust.’
I think I’m on to something. I took notice of how I’ve always been moved by the Complete Jewish Bible’s use of the word “trust” in place of the word “faith” or “belief.” Even when the word “faith” does appear, it’s usually in the form of the word “faithfulness” or “trustworthiness.” It is the top reason I like this translation of the Bible.
This morning I connected so hard with a thought, it was almost like a crash landing. I realized that I have always been troubled by a sense that when many people talk about “Faith,” it’s as if they think that they are somehow defining God with their belief, or maybe even generating God out of the substance of their belief. It’s as if God somehow doesn’t exist without our faith.

I’m sorry, that’s totally bogus!

Words are important. When we use the word “faith” or “believe” we can make phrases like “justified by faith” and questions like, “Do you believe in God?” That word is all about what we think about. It’s very rational. In Greek rhetoric the word usually translated as “faith,” —“pistis,” also referred to the part of the speech called the ‘pistis’ or “proof.” It’s easy to see the thought process that might lead us to say, “Prove it to me!” when we are talking about the existence of God.

It’s my idea that it’s silly to even talk about whether or not God exists. If we do that, it means that we’re taking a position that we must defend, as if our convictions were what was important. We put God into the context of an argument. Does anyone else think there’s something wrong there? We also do something that is really not fair—we ask people who might be feeling drawn to God to try to manufacture something called “belief” in their minds, and we tell them that if they don’t succeed in creating a state called “faith” then they’ve failed. How obnoxious is that?

On the other hand, if we talk about “Trust” (at least for me) a space eases open in our hearts—something relaxes, and we feel inclined to smile. The word “Trust” can be made into phrases like, “I trust you;” “She is trustworthy,” and “Children are very trusting.” Try making the same sort of sentence with the word faith— ”I faith you” just doesn’t work! You can change “belief” from a noun to a verb and say, “I believe you,” but doing that just reinforces the point I’m trying to make. What about “she is faithworthy,” or  “children are very faithing”? See how that works? The noun “faith” is just a word for a notion we have in our heads, and it’s a word that we simply can’t use as a verb!

On the other hand, “Trust” is a word that can be a noun that means “belief,” but it can also be a verb that means “believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of: i.e. "I should never have trusted her.”
Synonyms:  put/place one's trust in · have (every) confidence in · rely on · depend on · bank on · count on · be sure of · be convinced by · swear by · confide in.

I guess my point is that nouns are easy to argue about; easy to play word games with, especially if they are abstract concepts like “faith,” but verbs resist that sort of manipulation. Verbs just don’t care about philosophical subtleties, or ontological arguments.

What moves me in this passage from Romans comes through much better in the Bible Translation, The Message: (Although I did replace the word “faith” with the word “trust—)
5 1-2 By entering through trust into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!


Think about the phrase, “the ground of our trust.”  I think that the translator of the CJB meant “ground” to have the sense of “on these grounds” as in “on account of,” but I like the image of ‘standing on the ground of our trust.’ As though trust were a solid surface on which we can stand with confidence; a footing that that we can rely on to support us firmly and evenly; a solid foundation rooted deep in the ‘ground’ of our being that will never fail to uphold us.

Because “Trust” can be both a noun and a verb, we can allow it to be both at the same time: Our act of trusting is what lets us find our feet, and God’s trust forms the bedrock under us.

Huge sunlit spaces—

out here 

the only ground

is Trust—

the silent wind blows 

in no direction.

I sit and listen.

Popular posts from this blog

Apples and Carts

Acts 11:1-18 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
11 The emissaries and the brothers throughout Y’hudah heard that the Goyim had received the word of God; 2 but when Kefa went up to Yerushalayim, the members of the Circumcision faction criticized him, 3 saying, “You went into the homes of uncircumcised men and even ate with them!” 4 In reply, Kefa began explaining in detail what had actually happened: 5 “I was in the city of Yafo, praying; and in a trance I had a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being lowered by its four corners from heaven, and it came down to me. 6 I looked inside and saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, crawling creatures and wild birds. 7 Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Kefa, slaughter and eat!’ 8 I said, ‘No, sir! Absolutely not! Nothing unclean or treif has ever entered my mouth!’ 9 But the voice spoke again from heaven: ‘Stop treating as unclean what God has made clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then everything was pulled back up into hea…

Which Way The Wind Blows

Lectionaries are funny things— weird, abstruse little lists of biblical passages by number, sort of like tide tables or bus schedules. Today’s Lectionary passages (for 3-9-2018, the week of the third Sunday in Lent) are: Psalm 88; Genesis 47:1-26; 1 Corinthians 9:16-27; and Mark 6:47-56
About a month ago I posted a reflection in response to Abbess Jane’s Lectionary Musings blog on the same passage from Corinthians as the one listed for today in the Daily Office Readings Lectionary (BCP). That was supposed to be the reading for the 6th Sunday of Epiphany, according to +Jane, but I just can’t find it anywhere. I looked up Epiphany 6 in both the Daily Office Lectionary and the Revised Common Lectionary—not there. It’s not the reading from the Lindisfarne Community’s A Way of Living Lectionary for either Year 1 or 2 either. Oh well.
I was never the sort of autist who is fascinated by such things as bus schedules. I am much more inclined to be enthralled by maps. I wonder if I could make a L…

Heigh Ho

Psalm 142
By the road that I am walking
they have hidden a snare for me.


Numbers 24: 1-13
“I summoned you to curse my enemies. But here, you have done nothing but bless them — three times already!"


Romans 8: 12-17
15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to bring you back again into fear...


Matthew 22: 15-22

“You hypocrites! Why are you trying to trap me?


The Way:
Snares, contrariness, fear, and traps. That’s samsara, is what that is. The literal meaning of “samsara” is “continuous flow.” If you want a synonym for ‘samsara’ maybe “flux” would do.

Necks in a noose, getting the opposite of what we expect, being betrayed by freedom, and hearing our own double-dealing words echo in our ears. There’s no escaping it, until we stop trying to escape it. That’s when all the sticky tangles just dissolve without even a sizzle. Where did they go? Who cares?
There are so many clues embedded in our language that tell us what we already know:
“There ya go.” —  “It is what it is.” — “Even so.” — “Can’…