Trust(lessness) Begins with Me
Trustlessness singularly marks the beginnings of the great biblical story, and there are lessons to be learned from it in relation to humankind.
In an earlier Workwise article, I explained how broken trust is literally a threat to our lives, our cultures, our communities. This fact is not to be taken lightly. As a political scientist and a citizen, it is also an issue of particular concern to me. But we can come back to it later on a larger scale. Rather, in a few words, I would like to propose a very brief reflection on trustlessness on the "micro" scale, the small scale, that of the heart, that of the guts, the scale of the human psyche and its ramifications in our behaviour with others. Indeed, trustlessness marks the beginning of the great biblical story in a singular way, and there are strong lessons to be learned from it concerning the human race.
One of the triggers of the slippery slope of sin committed by Eve before the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is precisely a dynamic of trustlessness: the fact that the mother of all humans, thus representing an archetype of human nature, ceases to consider God as a person. She designates him by the abstract term "the God", falling for the lying tactics of the Serpent, whereas until then God had been regarded and referred to as YHWH, the One Lord. Refusing to consider God for who he is, she goes down this slippery slope and no longer trusts either the character or the words of her own Creator. Sin, before being an action ─ and make no mistake, sin is a catastrophic action ─ is the dynamic of trustlessness in God, based on our refusal to consider God for who he is.
The fact that the first sin is characterised by trustlessness is reinforced by the story of Cain and Abel, the first humans to be born exiled out of Eden, separated from the presence of God. This is a story of jealousy, conflict, worship, God’s sovereignty, temptation, violence and anger. It is also one of the first examples, striking as it is, of where this slippery slope that is there in our hearts, in our guts, can lead us. It begins with us. Like a poison: because we doubt God, we lack the foundation to trust in ourselves, and we bring about chaos. This story is a good illustration that lack of trust in God leads to lack of self-confidence, to the depreciation of the other, making us frighteningly fragile before the temptation of violence and nihilism.
If Cain kills Abel, it is indeed because he refuses to trust in God, trust in his brother who trusted God more — and who becomes a threat to him. And in particular, Cain lacks trust in himself — even though the fact that God does not "cooperate" with his way of working or worshipping says nothing of his worth.
One may be surprised at the link between the lack of trust in God and the destruction of relationships. If I decide to live as if God is neither faithful nor reliable, then I live by my own standards. And if we do not trust the One who creates us in His likeness, who affirms our absolute dignity, who plants a garden for us and calls us to flourish in it through our productive activities and through the grace of rest, what real trust can we still have in ourselves?