Sunday, March 1, 2009

Zophar, Zo Bad

In a contest between Job and his friends, Zophar wins two awards: coolest name and worst advice. He is the guy that, upon hearing about your problems, immediately assumes that A) you messed up, B) you're lucky things aren't worse, and C) if you would just straighten yourself out, everything would be fine.

I'm turning away from Job the character (who received these precious pearls of Zopharian wisdom in Chapter 11) to focus on Zophar. I'm wondering if I'm ever that kind of friend. The guy who tries to over-apply my theology to people's lives. I think theology is awfully dangerous, because it is, in the first place, an oversimplification of an infinite being. When we turn our observations about God into rules He must follow, the logic tends to get real scary. (Example: God is good, all the time. Suffering is not good. Therefore, if you're suffering, you must have wandered away from God.)

When I encounter someone whose life experience challenges my beliefs about God, the immediate reaction is, without fail, to think of how he might be lying, what she could be hiding, what they haven't yet considered that would clearly point to how screwed up they are and how perfect my interpretation of Scripture is. And while I definitely don't condone the redefining of the Bible to accomodate the whims of every soul, I also hope to be ever open to the possibility that I'm dead wrong. 

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