A two way street

Faithwriters.com Challenge entry 28th July 2016 – Intermediate – Topic Trust

Charities have come in for some criticism in the UK over the past 18 months. A recent study by the UK Charity Commission revealed that trust was at an all-time low of 57%[1]. Poor fundraising practices were a major contributing factor in this fall, and a new regulator has been created to monitor legal compliance and tackle any malpractice. Whilst the situation is better in Scotland, the Scottish Government’s Communities Secretary warns, “Scottish Charities benefit from a great deal of public trust and it’s important that confidence is maintained.”[2]

With the approach of the Rio Olympics, there is lack of trust and suspicion around the subject of doping, leading to some Russian athletes being banned from the games. Yet efforts to catch the culprits are reportedly hindered by a lack of trust on the part of athletes who fear mistreatment at the hands of the authorities is they admit using banned substances.

In both of these cases, there is an assumption that trust is one-sided: donors must trust charities, athletes must trust the authorities. Trust is exercised exclusively from the person to the organisation. But for relationships to work, trust must operate in both directions, with negotiations around areas of dispute. In Scotland, a new regulatory body has been created to monitor charitable fundraising following consultations that included charity and donor representatives.

Mutual trust is particularly important where change of behaviour is required. In HMP Oakwood, a relatively new prison, the usually strict prison regime has been relaxed, with cooperation encouraged between inmates and staff in the running of the institution. The aim is to build trust in both directions so that when prisoners are released, they are better equipped to deal with life outside.

Trust is essential to the Christian life. If we are to fulfil Jesus’ command to “Love one another as I have loved you,” then we must learn to trust each other. The old song teaches us: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” This can lead us to the situation of the athletes revealing evidence of drug taking, who are expected to trust their governing bodies with no idea of the consequences for themselves.

In contrast to this one-sided, almost blind trust, we learn in Scripture that God trusts us. When Jesus walked the earth, he sent out the twelve, and later the seventy-two, to preach the gospel and heal the sick (Luke 10:1). And Paul talks about the message entrusted to us (1 Corinthians 4:1). We are not merely servants who must trust our master, but friends (John 15:15) and co-workers (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Trust is risky; most of us will have experienced the pain of trust betrayed. However, if we are to assist in Jesus’ task of building the Kingdom of God, we must learn to offer and received trust in the same way that God offers and calls for trust with us.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/28/trust-charities-low-charitable-work-public accessed 27/07/2016 20:20

[2] Third Force News 887: 8 July 2016, p2

About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
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