Saturday, September 29, 2007

Behind The Curtain

We've started something new. Since my last post, so very long ago, we left the church we'd attended for 14 or so years and have begun a home fellowship. Whether this informal gathering ever turns into more than a few folks singing, talking and praying is more than I can say; but I hope and intend that it will become a new body doing church in a new and yet old way. Our reasons for leaving are varied, but we knew beyond a doubt that it was time for us to leave. The nest was uncomfortable, and it's time for us to learn to fly.

Last week, reading the story of Job in the Message Bible, three things struck me as if for the first time. I know I'd known them before, but I guess you can say they were handed to me in a fresh way, getting my attention again. Each of them applies to us as Christians now.

  1. God let Job be put through the wringer for one reason, and only one reason: God wanted to show off Job's single-hearted love for God rather than for the things God gave Job. Job was a very blessed man, but God bragged on one thing: that Job loved God more than the gifts God gave. Here's a challenge to everyone who says s/he is a Christian: Do I love God for His sake alone, or for the sake of what He gives me?
  2. Job, with his life ripped apart--children dead, flocks (and wealth) stolen, his own body rotten with disease--still knew that, in the sight of God, he was a righteous man. His friends argued the point, and almost led him into unrighteousness; but Job was convinced of his righteousness before God. He was bold in proclaiming his righteousness. If this man in the Old Testament could (rightly, in the judgment of God) say that he was righteous, then why do Christians hesitate to call ourselves righteous now? Why do we call ourselves "sinners saved by grace" and not "saints"? When did Paul, or Peter, or John, write to "the sinners in Rome" (or wherever)? It's true that we are saved by grace, but this grace makes us no longer sinners but men and women who have been given the nature of God.
  3. In the end, after facing Job down and humbling (almost humiliating) him, God still called Job His servant. He showed that He was on Job's side. Job, face-to-face with God, put his face in the dust and said: "I had heard of You, but now I see for myself." Job had all but accused God of unfairness, had spoken out of turn--but God still called Job His servant and held him up as an example of righteousness before Job's friends. Though Job had been a fool, God was still on his side. And God is on our side as well, not because we have done all things wisely and perfectly but because we are His possession.
Job never got to look behind the beginning of the story; he never saw the first act. But he looked behind the curtain in the end, seeing God in power. That glimpse of God as God, the fearsome whirlwind, the One Who poses riddles we can't even begin to answer, made Job a true believer. That's the way it is: when we see God for what He is, not for what people tell us He is, He puts us on our faces in the dirt before Him. The God behind the curtain is "not a tame lion." That was all Job really learned from seeing God; but it's enough.

No comments: