Thursday, May 7, 2009

Done yet, Elihu?

I'm a bit anxious to resume this study and even more ready to be done with Elihu. So I'm plowing through Job 35–37 today. The problem with his advice to Job is mostly the general spirit in which he gives it, although he makes some major factual missteps, too.

The best way to summarize Elihu's arrogance is his statement about himself in Chapter 36: "One perfect in knowledge is with you." Seems a bit off for him to be chastising Job's pride when he's calling himself Mr. Perfect Smartypants. But he's guilty of more than just spiritual snobbery; Elihu is acting as God's PR agent.

There are those who blaspheme God. There are those who defend God against all criticism. Both parties fail to know God as He truly is, usually because of one of two mistakes. They either expect Him to behave as a human constrained by time, space, and social standards of general politeness or they dismiss Him as so completely separate and distant from humanity that no part of Him needs to make any sense to us whatsoever. Whatever explanation will satisfy our preconceived notions about God—be you skeptic or believer—that's the one toward which we will happily gravitate.

A) God doesn't need a PR agency. I'm not saying we shouldn't defend our faith, but I do think we should be less defensive about it, particularly when it's an older, wiser brother or sister with whom we disagree. Instead of feeling responsible for making everyone align with our views on everything, it's not a bad idea to listen and think every once in awhile.

B) Just because God doesn't answer doesn't mean He don't care. Garth Brooks taught me that, and it's true. Elihu criticized Job for longing for an answer from God, arguing that God doesn't relate to us on that level; that's probably because Elihu didn't relate to God on that level. For all his ramblings about the power of God, he missed the love of God completely.

That would truly be a shame. God, I recognize your power, I can't fathom your immensity, and I'm not nearly grateful enough for your love. I can't wait to read your response to man's rants and raves.