March 03, 2017

Learning Christ's Communication and Trust in Relationships



I recently asked this question on my facebook wall:

“What is your opinion of this hypothetical situation?

One person is reluctant to trust 100% unless there is a willingness for open communication. Another person is reluctant to offer open communication unless there is perceived 100% trust.”

 
This paradoxical conundrum seems to represent two types of polar views that people lean towards. On the one hand, some people tend to see human nature as a problematic condition in which trust is never quite 100%, and on the other hand some people tend to see people as generally good and worthy of 100% trust, offhand.

Before asking the above question, my opinion was that communication is much more critical than trust, because communication is necessary in order to build trust. But trust is not necessary to initiate communication. And I also held the opinion that this paradox represents a false dichotomy, because ultimately I believe that the highest form of relationship is not based on either interactive communication or on human trust. And so far these opinions have been confirmed. But what is extremely challenging to me is the level of communication and trust that Christ extended to all. 

Benjamin L. Toms  agreed with my opinion that the willingness to communicate is more necessary than initial trust. Others helped to confirm that knowing God changes everything,m with regard to our relationships. When we have a relationship with God, then this understanding should form the foundation of all other relationships. Cindee Beighey Grigson pointed out: “Having 100% trust in God can mend both of those flawed people. Because who is not flawed? My opinion is they need to seek God first! Then they can tackle these issues of distrust and non communication.”

Jesus emphasized both open communication and trust, with many examples.

Jesus, our example, kept communication open and active as much as possible. Christ demonstrated an example of trust to untrustworthy Judas, and open communication to Samaritans, the enemies of the Jews at that time. This openness was exemplified in his initiation of communication while asking for water at a well (John 4), and also in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus also never backed down from an open and direct discourse with his enemies, that were trying to entrap him in conversation. He exemplified very open communication with all people. That is our standard as Christians.

With a firm foundation in relationship with God, the risk of relating to others reduces substantially. We should feel less needy and less insecure, and we should be more able and willing to withstand the possible heartache of broken trust. The one caveat that would be to try to use wisdom to guard one's heart in taking on extraordinary relationship risks. (Proverbs 4.23). We need to pray for God's guidance. Nevertheless, as Christians we should be able to offer hope and encouragement to others. We should aim to communicate and trust beyond our comfort zones. Jesus emphasized both open communication and trust with many examples.

Today more than ever, communication seems highly conditional and highly censored. 
 
Unfortunately, there is a tendency for communication to be highly conditional today, even among Christians. Some Christians won't communicate openly unless you are a part of their denomination or church. Others won't communicate openly unless you are a part of their political group. And there are Christian mega-church pastors that avoid openly addressing important questions about their doctrine. In my opinion, none of these reflect biblical values. If Jesus was willing to communicate openly with all people, and for the most part at all times, then an unwillingness to do so as a Christian is probably based on ignorance, arrogance or a sense of insecurity, none of which should mark a Christian. The refusal to communicate does actually communicate something, though, that a person or situation is considered too boring, difficult, or hopeless to bother with. But with respect to God, all people have value worth engaging, and no person or situation is hopeless.
 
The fact is, trust in society in general is presently very low, and so there is a lot of room for learning and growing in this area. Psychology Today outlined Edelman Trust Barometer findings, and they're not good:

“Official company-issued communications are distrusted by workers of all levels."

"Only 18 percent of the general population trust business leaders to tell the truth regardless of how complex or unpopular the truth is."

Citing trust, honesty and a strong work ethic, William Jeynes highlighted a scholar that graduated first in his class at Harvard University showing that China was interested to understand the link between Christianity and the initial economic success of the West:

"...China believes Christianity is responsible for the economic prosperity in the U.S. At a Harvard Business Conference years ago, Jeynes recalled top Chinese CEOs one after another asking Harvard scholars not about their talking points but about the relationship between Christianity and economic prosperity in the United States."
     
Slava Moskalenko offered that there are tools available to help build trust when we run into very difficult situations. One answer when communication breaks down is to ask for an objective third party mediator to try to find some common ground, address any broken trust, and bring a sense of resolution and commitment that can help to move forward. Proverbs 15.22 suggests, "Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success." (NLT). Of all people, as Christians we should understand the importance of commitment to important relationships and the need to try to work things out, especially with family members, and the need to try to maintain open communication.

In general, life is good and God has given all good things to enjoy. The sun shines on both the good and the evil. But there is a danger of summarizing life in an oversimplified, “life is a beach” type approach. Growing in communication and trust requires a wisdom that looks beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary. Jesus emphasized that, humanly speaking, "No one is good." (Mark 10.18) - due to the sin nature. The fallen and broken world dishes up harsh reality every day and in many ways around the world, But that's not the end of the story. Beneath the surface of life, there is both a harsh reality and a supreme reality. The fool desires to understand neither. The wise person desires to understand both. Because we understand that human nature tends to be selfish and corrupted does not mean that we need to love less, but that we need to love more wisely. God is the supreme reality that informs all and our extraordinary foundation of all relationships.

Beneath the surface of life, there is both a harsh reality and a supreme reality. The fool desires to understand neither. The wise person desires to understand both.
 
Grady Syx pointed out: “Trust is an attribute that is earned, I can love, forgive and communicate with anyone, but it does not mean I trust them.” We are called as Christians to fully and completely trust God, but to have wisdom in other relationships. Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, and yet Jesus continued to extend trust to Judas in a practical bond. This type of trust seems to require supernatural insight, built upon an awareness of the human condition as well as God's sovereignty. God's love always leaves the door open, and always hopes. And in this sense it "always trusts" - as shown in I Corinthians 4:6-7:

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

It's not easy to balance being both truthful and loving, communicating hope in the other person and wisely guarding your heart a the same time. By God's grace, we can forgive not just seven times, but seventy times seven. And because we understand that God will judge all people justly, we are free to love all people fully.
 
I know that I fall short when it comes to communicating and trusting beyond my comfort zone. And I hope that people will forgive me when I screw up and say something that I should not have said, or do something that causes pain. In any event, I am aiming to grow in this area and to learn from one who is both the master of creation and the master of communication, the one who both lived and taught extraordinary communication and trust.

Posted by Rick Warden 03-03-17

Image base: Der_Typ_von_Nebenan
 
Tags: Psychology, communication, trust, relationships, open communication, secret of extraordinary communication, basis of strong relationships, communication and trust in relationship building, challenge of communication and trust in relationships, Jesus' example of communication,

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