From church divisions to political mudslinging, trust is in short supply. Mennonite Church USA’s Southeast Mennonite Conference voted Oct. 5-6 to leave the denomination. The U.S. election — finally mere weeks away — is a referendum on President Trump’s polarizing approach to governance with ads pitting neighbor against neighbor.
The Boston Globe reported half of Americans said they trusted each other in the 1980s, and by 2017 that number dropped to about 3 in 10. Is the church doing better or worse? “Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time” (Prov. 25:13), trust is refreshing because it’s hard to find.
In a society ever more connected through new technology, we’ve never been further apart. Trust is ebbing, but for hope, we can turn to a handful of Mennonite Brethren churches in Uruguay.
A charismatic group of church plants started by the Assemblies of God is looking to join the more traditionally restrained Anabaptist group. After about 80 percent were opposed, several months of intentional conversation swung things around to only about a 10th of Uruguayan MBs remaining uncomfortable.
Division is easy. Anonymity and distance don’t take work. That’s what fuels divisiveness, polarization and anger. Communication takes guts.
Understanding isn’t forbearance, it’s grace — something more divine than mere piety.
If there is shared faith in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, liberal nor conservative (Gal. 3:26-29). As post-Christendom steams along, surely the benefits of uniting around the values Anabaptists hold in common outweigh any concerns about risks taken by erring on the side of love and inclusion.
Be warned: Creating trust comes with side effects. University of Missouri sociologist Eileen Avery found people who perceive neighbors as trustworthy rate their health better than those who don’t. Members of some kind of community tend to have a lower risk of stroke and heart attack.
Be selfish about your health and open up to other people more. Trust me, you’ll feel better.