Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Verse of the Moment: 1 Chr. 16:9

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of his wonderful acts. 1 Chronicles 16:9

Sometimes I'm afraid to give God credit publicly for anything, because it's not the smart or fashionable thing to do, bringing God into the conversation. I'm hesitant to tell anyone that He has granted me some small grace by providing a paycheck or bringing me home safely from a trip. Was it really God who made that happen? Would my friends take me seriously if I said that?

But I'm perhaps even more wary of telling people what I know He's done for me without a shadow of a doubt. He sent His Son to die for me and save me from my sins. Can't I at least tell people about that? Can't you?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Verse of the Moment: 1 Cor. 1:17

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." 1 Corinthians 1:17

How interesting that Paul was glad to have not done something inherently good because it allowed him to escape the glorification of his personality? He earnestly feared becoming the face of his ministry and becoming the object of worship.

The cliché goes, "don't blame the messenger," but Paul was afraid people would praise the messenger. He was happy to detach his name from the baptism of the saints so they would know they were baptized into the family of Christ and not the family of Paul.

Yet how quick am I to take credit for the small things I do? How much do I long to hear my name associated with anything recognized as significant for the cause of Christ? Maybe not so I can receive glory, but at least my share of the pie. I need to trust in God to provide all I need, not the cult of personality within the Christian culture. I hope I can remember that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hakuna Matata

You might not realize it, but you probably do know at least a little bit of Swahili. The phrase made popular by The Lion King, "Hakuna Matata," is really the Swahili way to say, "There are no worries." Job 39 carries a similar vibe to the sentiment espoused by Timon and Pumbaa in the Disney cartoon: Hey, we're animals; what do we have to worry about?

So what's the point, here? This isn't one of those chapters where the logical conclusion hits you over the head with a sledge hammer. Here are some gut reactions that might come to us naturally:

  • The animals listed here don't have to worry, so why should Job? I really don't think God would ask Job to take solace in the carefree nature of the wild kingdom after losing his family, his possessions, and his health. "Sorry about your kids and the hideous boils, but hey, ostriches are fast." Not exactly a bright side there.
  • God cares for the animals, so He'll certainly care for Job. True, but not the point here. The tone of the previous chapter had been the folly of claiming to empathize with or comprehend God. We can't put ourselves in His position. We can't grasp the why behind His actions. We can't even pinpoint His actions. To segue into "Don't worry, I'll take care of you," would be a complete non sequitor at this point.
  • God cares for things you can't, so you don't have to worry about them. Again, this is true, but it doesn't follow from what the general direction of the text. God isn't asking Job to leave his worries to God (although he should); He's correcting Job's skewed view of just how superior God is, how small Job is, and how silly it is for Job or anyone to give their opinions of what God should do.
  • God does have to care for the animals' tiniest needs, and He equips them with their most intricate features. Man has no idea what it's like to truly provide care on the level God provides it. I put this one last, because that's how I read this passage.
God's response to Job here reminds me of a speech a parent might give to a child (or even to an adult who doesn't have kids). Until you become a mom or a dad, you have no idea what it's like to love and care for a baby, a child, a teenager. Actions and inaction that seem completely ridiculous or unfair to our children are motivated by a love that is deep and inexplicable. If we could explain to our kids the pain we feel when they suffer or the extent to which we care, they still wouldn't get it.

I think, though, Job got it. At least he finally understood he couldn't get it. Got it?

Friday, June 19, 2009

God: You Don't Know

A) I don't have any excuses for going over a month without seriously dwelling on God's Word. But that's what I've done.

B) Nobody knows what it's like to be God.

I think that (point B) is the key of this passage. I can see people taking Job Chapter 38 to be God's chastisement to Job for asking God questions (You have no right to ask Why?). I can see people understanding it to be God's statement of distance (You aren't on my level, so you can't expect me to relate to you). But neither of those adequately reflect the words or the essence of the passage or other revelations God has made about Himself.

No, the point seems to be that humans like Job & friends (and us) have no clue what it is like to stand in God's place or to wield God's power. So when we go beyond asking God "Why?" and venture into the land of making conclusions about God's motivations and reasoning . . . we're publicizing our idiocy.

We don't know what it's like, and we should never have the arrogance to conclude why God has done anything, unless He has spelled it out clearly in His Word. Even then, we shouldn't claim to comprehend the magnitude of God's actions, only gratefully awed that He would include us in His explanation and in His plan of grace.