I’ve been on the road most of the last two weeks. New Orleans for some R&R, Beckwith for Clergy Conference, and Charleston for my brother’s Air Force retirement ceremony. This means that I’ve been eating things that I normally wouldn’t eat in quantities I normally wouldn’t eat them. There was the cheeseburger covered in grilled onions and bacon at 10pm, the several dozen oysters, and the Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast, just to name a few. The worst idea came last night, however. I was stopped for the night somewhere between here and there at one of those chain steak restaurants when the waitress gave me a choice I should have refused.
“Do you want a 12 or 16 ounce New York Strip?”
I went with the 16, and I’ve regretted it ever since. In Sunday’s Gospel lesson, Luke tells us that Jesus told a parable to those who “trusted in themselves.” This too is a terrible idea. When we try to trust in ourselves, we are bound to make all sorts of powerful missteps.
In the real life Draughting Theology, we are studying Paul’s letter to the Romans, which has at its core this idea that the primary sin of humanity is idolatry. Not that we worship other gods, but that we put ourselves in the place of God. When we trust ourselves to know what is right and to do it, we, more often than not, put our own desires in front of God’s. We put ourselves at the center, do what’s best for us, and like me trusting my gut, must life to pay the consequences.
I’m eating Tums like they are candy, but in the spiritual realm, the only way out of trusting ourselves, is, as Jesus points out in the parable, to trust only in God’s mercy. When we confess our tendency to make idols of ourselves, ask God to return to God’s rightful place in our lives, and put our trust in God alone, we will find life to be much more abundant.
Take it from me dear reader, don’t trust your gut.