The key to Christian peace and bliss isn’t a gnostic secret. It isn’t concealed knowledge just revealed to those who achieve higher levels of sacred enlightenment. This secret is hidden in plain sight throughout the Scripture and can be available to anyone who’s willing to believe it.
God has not only gone public with this trick, but he invites us and longs for us to understand it. He doesn’t want us to merely understand about this trick — to not merely preach it, explain it, enjoy the idea of this or desire for it — but to understand it by expertise.
Jesus described the kind of expertise he wants us to know:
“So I tell you, don’t be anxious about your life, what you may eat, nor about your body, what you will put on… [For] your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these items will be added to you.” (Luke 12:22, 30–31)
Paul, from prison, shared his expertise of this secret with all who would listen:
I understand the way to be brought low, and I understand how to abound. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11–13)
The key to contentment is very straightforward. And it does not need heroic acts of piety. No, in fact it requires a childlike response from us. The key is beautifully summed up in this phrase:”Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5).
Could It Really Be Simple?
Is it really that easy? Just trust God? Yes. So simple, but its reality is revolutionary.
God designed us to operate on confidence. We are reasoning creatures made in God’s image. However, God didn’t make us he made us in small measure like God. We only contain very small amounts of each. Nor did he give us his power to bring to being whatever we want. Our power is very limited. God designed us to trust him in whatever knowledge, wisdom, and strength he supplies us and to trust his knowledge, wisdom, and strength when ours reach their limits.
What happened with Adam and Eve in the garden is that they broke hope with God by eating the forbidden fruit. When they did this, they unhinged their reason by Reality (Genesis 3:6) and besides living in a world subjected to futility (Romans 8:20), they had to deal with the overwhelming complexities of the knowledge of good and evil without the capacities of knowledge and knowledge and power to adequately process them.
The narrative of redemptive history, culminating in Jesus’s incarnation, death, and resurrection, is God undoing the catastrophe of the garden and restoring sinful humans to holiness and once again trusting in him with all their heart.
No matter who we are, no matter what our gifts and abilities, no matter what our background, it all really does come down to trusting God with all our heart. If we trust him, our hearts won’t be sinfully troubled (John 14:1). And trusting is simple. Nonetheless, it is by no means easy.
Why Trusting (and Obeying) Is Hard
The devil’s treachery and Adam and Eve’s fall from grace is why God chooses to save us by grace through faith, and not through works (Ephesians 2:8–9). God is searching for trust. Our functions are important, in fact they are crucial, but just in that they demonstrate that we hope God.
God understands that our dwelling in simple trust in him will probably be hard for us in this age. Jesus promised that it could be (Matthew 7:14). It’s hard because we are called to trust Jesus, demonstrated by our obeying Jesus, in a world under the power of this evil one that rejects and hates Jesus (1 John 5:19; John 14:15; 15:18), while living in a body of death that has faithless impulses (Romans 7:23–24).
However what we need to keep in mind is that each time we are called to trust Jesus’s promises over our perceptions and the devil’s deceptionswe reenact what happened in Eden. And every time we exercise trust Jesus by obeying what he says, it is a smack in the devil’s lying mouth.
We do not need to understand the”why” to every command of God or be able to answer every objection or shadow of doubt cast upon God’s word. But we do need to trust God and therefore comply with him. In fact, God is particularly glorified when, in the face of disorienting temptation, we do not fully understand God’s reasons and we trust and follow him anyway — we rest our reason on the Reason of God.
Go Through the Secret
Trusting God isn’t easy, but it’s not complex. The knowledge of good and evil is complicated. It generates Gordian knots we cannot untie. But we were never meant to. We were meant to trust God with them. And when we do, it is a great relief.
Trusting God is the secret:
To turning away from sexual temptation (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
To providing generously to kingdom requires, even beyond your means (2 Corinthians 8:3).
To not allowing material abundance to choke the term in us (Matthew 13:22).
To rejoicing even if sorrowful (2 Corinthians 6:10).
To contentment even when experiencing deprivation (Philippians 4:12).
To peace even if facing pressured trials (Philippians 4:6–7).
To pleasure even if enduring withering affliction and illness (2 Corinthians 1:3–5).
To hope when all around our spirit gives way (Psalm 42:11).
To gracious patience under forced labors (Colossians 1:11).
To courage in leaving family and land to Jesus’s sake (Matthew 19:29).
To overcoming discouragement because of adversity and weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10).
To not allowing indwelling sin to predominate or condemn us (Romans 6:12, 8:1).
To adoring saints who sin and sinful unbelievers (John 15:12; Romans 12:10; Romans 9:1–3).
To facing every additional fear and anxiety-producing temptation.
He really wants us to encounter them in increasing measure, here in this troubled world (John 16:33). So he has given us the simple, hard secret: Trust me. It is the only way.