Do our words show we believe?
I recently heard a sermon pointing out pastors and leaders either teach that the Bible starts in Genesis 1 or in Genesis 3. In other words, if the perspective is Genesis 1 then the world was created good. We are called to be co-creators with God, naming animals, tilling the ground etc. Even though the world is broken, it is in the process of being restored which will culminate with Revelation 22.
If we look at life through Genesis 3, then life is to be endured. The world is corrupt and we are only trying to get out of it. We look at the cross as an escape instead of beginning the process of restoration.
This is important in the book of Job because Job’s friends look at life as if the Bible starts in Genesis 3. See if you agree.
In our readings this week we get a second round of arguments from the friends. They all say less this time around, but with a little more intensity. Eliphaz has a basic premise (Job 15); the Creator gives you exactly what you deserve. The implication is that Job is wicked, and his former blessings were just a calm before the storm that broke him and exposed his wrenched evil. Bildad (Job 18) basically says there is no point talking with Job until he changes his view. Zophar (Job 20) ends by predicting more disaster for Job.
Look at the effect of their words on the heart of Job: “I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all.” (16:2)
There is a way of using theology that can wound rather than heal. This is not the fault of theology, it’s the fault of the miserable comforter who fastens on an inappropriate fragment of truth, whose timing is off, whose attitude is condescending, whose application is insensitive, or whose true theology is couched in such culture-laden clichés that they grate rather than comfort. We have to watch that our truth telling is actually helping folks see the Savior rather that cause pain and destruction.
Are your words pointing people toward the idea that they were created in the imagine of God? Do they show that God loves this world and the people He created? That He is pursuing their hearts no matter where they are and offering grace at the cross? That He calls us to be creators in this world, to work for it’s good and to long for the day when it will be restored to it’s original intent? Our words really do show what we believe.
Tips for Reading (Application tip # 1)
Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.
Before I launch into tips on application I want to explore why we need application.
Look at Hebrews 4:1-2:
“Therefore since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but they message they heard was of no value them, because those who heard it did not combine it with faith.”
This is probably one of the greatest temptations in religious circles, to listen to the truth and miss applying it to our lives. This passage shows how the covenant body heard the truths for 40 years and the offers God gave of a relationship and missed it. How did they not hear? Maybe they were lazy about applying the truths to their lives or maybe they believed alternative truths. Whatever it was, the call to us is to make sure we don’t allow this to happen to us. After we have observed the truths of scripture and tried to figure out what it means, we must take the important step of asking the Spirit to apply this to the way we live day by day.
Look at Job. What did he do to look for the rest of God in the midst of suffering? What are the ways that God is calling you into His rest today? How does that connect you to Him relationally? Is the rest a day or a person (Jesus), or both?
Notes from David’s Journal
Job’s three “friends” continue to badger him about finding his sin. Again and again, they are trying to connect the reason for Job’s suffering with sin in his life. As you’ll see later on, they are completely wrong.
However, there is one interesting insight in this interchange. In chapter 17, for example, Job does try to defend his innocence. It’s not the only time he tries to do so. I’ve often wondered, when reading Job, if God wasn’t trying to use Job’s predicament to “get at” some issues in his life, one being his constant defense of his self-righteousness. Take it from someone who knows about this subject: God hates self-righteousness. The Cross is God’s way of eliminating all our self-righteousness. The only righteousness we have is God’s righteousness (read again II Cor. 5:21).
Jesus alone is our righteousness and if we spend a lot of time and energy defending ourselves it only shows we have not died to self. God uses all kinds of things in this world to confront our sin. Perhaps this is a time for you to examine your own sense of righteousness. How do you know if it’s a problem? Here’s a clue: if you get criticized, how do you handle it? Trying to learn if there’s any truth? Of do you become defensive? It’s a painful evaluation, but one that is necessary for growth in Christ.