Trust is Like the Air We Breathe
Last weekend in Paris, the first mass was held in the great cathedral of Notre Dame since the fire there on 15 April 2019. Two months since the tragedy, the building is already back in use - albeit with the priests wearing designer hard hats for the service!
The most amazing thing about the fire was that the building structure seemed almost completely unaffected. Sure the wooden roof blazed away, but the stone structure beneath that was rock solid. This is testimony to the genius of the original design and also to the integrity of the construction. Integrity being the quality in a built object that prevents it from falling apart. Our confidence in the integrity of an aircraft or a bridge is what allows us to trust our lives to their safety. Our belief in the integrity of a thing, a person, an idea or an institution is what gives us the ability to trust that person, idea or institution. Trust is essential to government, business, media and the church and when trust goes, trouble is not far behind. As the American investor Warren Buffett once said: “Trust is like the air we breathe - when it’s present nobody really notices; when it’s absent everybody notices.”
So, when according to the Edelman Trust Barometer only 20% of their global audience believes that “the system” is working for them, that reflects a pandemic problem with trust.
As Christians we have a vital role to play in how the body of Christ is perceived in our countries - particularly when we go to work. At work, our faith is personal - people don’t see the institutions or denominations, they see us! If we have the same level of self-interest, the same disregard for honesty or the same ‘blind eye’ to injustice as those around us, how will our lives attract people to Jesus, and how will people trust the authenticity of our message of hope in him?
C.S. Lewis describes integrity as the motivation to “do good even when no-one is watching”, i.e. when there is no upside to doing the right thing and when bending the rules may have been easier for us. Integrity is not only about not doing that which is wrong, it is about actively going out of our way to do what is right!
Peter describes the body of Christian believers as a “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4-10), a structure with integrity like the great Cathedral of Notre Dame that can stand up to anything because of the manner in which it is built. Jesus is the cornerstone (foundation), he is also the capstone (the final rock in a stone archway that holds everything together). He is the “Living Stone”, and we believers are being meshed together like living stones ourselves. Jesus is the one on whom the living church stands and by his grace we all have been made integral to the structure.
Globally there are more people who identify as Christians than any other belief system or ideology. Yet at the same time, corruption, which is the opposite of integrity, is at an all-time high. Are we, by neglect or by deliberate act, implicit in the perpetuation of ways of work fundamentally at odds with Jesus?
If we want to be people of integrity, people of trust, we must stand firm for truth and honesty and justice in every circumstance. And to do this we must ask two questions: First, what would Jesus do in this situation? And second, can I risk trusting Jesus with my security, my career and my dreams, when choosing to act like him might set me against all the ‘wisdom’ and cultural norms of my workplace, profession or society?