Over the last few weeks I've seen some very bold promises being made.
One was on the door of a Fitness Studio in the city, the sign reads. "If fitness is your life, then happiness is your prize."
Another, that I found quite by chance was in the classifieds of a Sydney paper. it reads.
Reunites lovers. Solves all problems.
And lastly from a toy that is supposed to resemble an iPhone. There is this promise in the instructions.
"Every function will bring eternal enjoyment."
Now I will concede that in the last example there is probably some problem with Chinese-English translation or syntax. However, a cursory glance at the above claims, and I think you'll see where I'm headed.
So what constitutes a promise? If we make a promise, surely, there is some expectation that it will be carried out, or, at the very least we have the capacity to fulfil it. What is the nature of a promise? A wedding vow, a promise of payment? The three promises I've cited above are empty promises. Because no amount of time at the Gym will make me happy, no one person can solve all my problems and no toy manufacturer can make me an eternal promise.
Lets look at them a bit deeper.
What constitutes happiness? My feelings? What if I'm unhappy (as so many people are) with my body shape? Endless comparison with manufactured ideals fuels my unhappiness. No exercise induced endorphin rush is going to keep me happy for very long. That is only a temporal promise, it cannot and will not last. What if, upon leaving the gym I step in dog droppings, or find a parking ticket on my car or it's got a flat tyre? My happiness is gone, do I rush back into the gym for a refill?
What about solving all my problems? Many of our problems are simply based on who we are, our circumstances and other people around us. How can any one person promise to fix that? These sort of problems more often than not, can only be addressed by myself, and the choices I make in seeking to resolve those issues. Are we so seduced and blinded by the notion of a magic genie granting us three wishes, or a happy ever after prince charming kiss that immediately dispels our woes? A big red ball will not make all your dreams come true. Anything that is not achievable through the application of effort is a fantasy.
What about this promise of eternal enjoyment? The temporal nature of our existence, cannot supply us with anything eternal. Because the person making the promise will die. The responsibility, for the fulfilment of the promise ends with them. The only real exception to that of course would be in the form of an inheritance, but even that is limited by time and available resources.
So instead, let's look at some real promises. Let's look at the promises of God.
Now these are many and varied so I'll just pick out a couple to illustrate my point.
Heb 6:13 reads "When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself." NIV2011
What does this mean?
Simply this, that God has taken sole and complete responsibility for the fulfilment of his promise. In other words, he's laying his reputation on the line. If it doesn't happen, then God cannot be trusted. A similar thought is expressed in Psalm 23:3 "He guides me along the right paths for his names sake."
God again lays his own reputation on the line.
What about 2Cor 1:20 "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are Yes in Christ. And so through him the Amen is spoken by us to the glory of God."
So God through Jesus Christ, has given us the fulfilment of his promises, to which we now testify.
Now where does all this leave us? Do we continue to put our trust in man? Or are we willing to put our trust in God?
Man will fail us, and our fickle hearts will blame God because he didn't act in an instant at our behest.
The answer to the question is faith. There are many interpretations on what faith is or does. My simplest answer is that faith says, God is still God no matter what. Faith is attached to the nature and character of God, he cannot act independently of it. God cannot take a day off and stop being God. Faith is a choice, it is what maintains our belief and trust in God, it says your ways are higher than mine, I don't always understand them, but because I know who you are I will continue to trust you.
Because God cannot leave his promises unfulfilled. It is not in his nature or character to do that.
So, whose promises are you going to believe?