To Whom Do We Entrust Ourselves?
In the current political divide in the Unites States, one of the underlying narratives that divides the political left and right is the question of entrustment, or more specifically, to whom should the citizens of the country entrust themselves. The basic answer on the left side of the debate is that we should entrust ourselves to the government, who has the best interest of every citizen at heart. The answer from the right side of the debate is that citizens should entrust themselves to themselves, understanding that every individual has the ability and prerogative to make the decisions that are best for him/herself. Without being overtly political, both sides of the debate ultimately fail to account for key aspects of fallen human nature: power corrupts, and there is a distinct prevalence of foolishness and a lack of wisdom by individuals in their decision-making. It certainly seems like entrusting oneself to the government can be disastrous, but that taking matters into one’s own hands can also cause problems and abuse. So what then are we to do?
In 1 Peter 2:23, Peter gives us the example of Christ, who “continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” The Biblical answer for the Christian is that we always entrust ourselves into the hands of God. The Christian doesn’t place their hope in the government to solve all their problems, but neither do they think that they have the ability in and of themselves to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and be successful. This issue is even more acute in the context of 1 Peter 2, where Peter is commanding his listeners to be subject to every human institution, both unjust governors and unjust slave-masters. There is a very real acknowledgement by Peter that the government will not always have your best interest at heart. But he also acknowledges that our natural tendency is to personally lash out and try to take control of our own destiny in the midst of suffering. And so he gives the example of Christ, who was abused by the unjust government yet did not use his personal prerogatives to free himself. What was his response? He entrusted himself to God.
The reason here is clear: God is the just judge! The government isn’t always just, and neither are sinful individuals. The only one who can ever truly bring justice in a fallen world is God himself. There is a two-fold recognition here by Peter. First, God is judge. A Biblical worldview demands that we understand God as the sovereign judge over the universe. As Creator, he has the prerogative to declare right and wrong, what is good or evil. He has established law, a law which emanates from his perfect nature and bears its weight on every creature which gets its being from him. Secondly, God is just. We must understand that not only does he have the prerogative to judge, but that his judgments are just. They will always bring punishment on evil, though often it is delayed. But his judgments will also bring mercy and care to the afflicted and oppressed. The contrast between the perfect God and that which we experience in a fallen world could not be clearer.
For pastors and ministers of the Gospel who keep watch over the souls of the flock, it is good for us to continually exhort our people to entrust themselves to the just judge. As the political climate in the US and abroad continues to heat up to a boil next November, the temptation for many Christians will be to forget about their true judge and to place their hope and security in one political philosophy or the other. Yes, a responsible citizen votes, but a responsible Christian also understands that their ultimate hope for justice comes not from that vote or for whom the vote is cast, but from the only judge with true authority to bring that justice we all so desperately yearn for.
Keith Kauffman attended University of Maryland (B.S.) and Capital Bible Seminary(M.Div.). Keith currently works at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, working in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases studying the immune response to Tuberculosis. Keith serves as an elder at Greenbelt Baptist Church.