Maybe it’s my age, and it surely includes other factors in my life, but the only thing approaching an aphrodisiac for me is trust. It’s always been the paramount hunger in my world. I’ve become very wary of cuties because too many of those I encounter are untrustworthy. There’s always this nagging element of threat in my mind when some gal flaunts her beauty in my presence.
Of course, the blame for that is mostly cultural, not really a matter of personality. I’ve experienced betrayal far too often in my life. The resulting humiliation has made me very sensitive to predatory behavior. By definition, a predator is someone who exploits any human weakness for personal gain. What I find most infuriating is just how petty that gain might be in many social conflicts.
Predators have their place; I don’t hate them until they turn on their own. But because I’m sensitive to social predation against shalom, I can be a predator myself. I’m always careful to employ it against threats to shalom. And because of the role in which I often find myself, that predatory capability seldom shows itself. I’ve learned over the years I’m not very good at it unless I am very patient and restrained.
But in social situations, I tend to be wary of predators, watching for them. Most people bear a certain amount of it in their personality, even if only vicarious in expression. They won’t prey on others themselves so much as celebrate when it happens. It’s part of a very immoral social dynamic of certain in-groups. Those groups welcome no one who hasn’t first been humiliated by their predations, a perverse sort of initiation rite. Those are groups worthy of destruction.
Moral redemption tends to wash that crap away. It’s the norm in our American society, and it’s the means of enforcing perverse norms. Serving Christ tends to weaken that tendency. However, in any random grouping there will always be those who rise as predators without any conscience at all. They don’t just defend it; they’ll fight for the privilege of preying on those on whom they actually depend for their existence. They simply cannot live without the constant friction and tension that comes from everyone being on their toes.
What they disparage as weakness is a desperate struggle to hide their own. If you don’t keep them tied up with fighting external threats, they’ll destroy any little shred of shalom you might have carefully built up in the group.
This is why a genuine church family tends to grow by taking in those who have been shredded already. Sure, any given individual may be simply an unfortunate predator, but we don’t create a gateway that threatens and shreds them again. Our identity is not our strength, but the succor and strength of Christ that keeps us functioning in this world. We build from those who were already rejected by the world, because it is these who know they need Him.
It should be apparent by now that trust is just one facet of faith. The necessity of building covenant communal trust is a major element in revelation. If there is no place in your life where it is safe to be vulnerable, then you can never heal and grow. This is what church is all about. If the only thing you accomplish in your congregation is a strong sense of trust, then your whole congregation will wear crowns in God’s presence.