How things really are
Job 5: What a blessing when God steps in and corrects you!
If I work my way through the book of Job and pick out various quotes from Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Eliju and then present them to about any Christian I think they’d find the words quite acceptable. On the other hand, I could pick out many things Job says and those same Christians would shake their heads in dismay. How can it be that this old book which has been available to God’s people for so long be so poorly understood? Eliphaz says the same kind of stuff that we say. He reminds Job of his good life and suggests that he draw on that for hope now, in this day of suffering. He tells Job that everyone knows that for God’s people everything will turn out okay. It’s the bad people who need to worry about what the future holds. He even reminds his friend that human beings are born into trouble. In other words, “that’s life.” Job needs to throw himself on the mercy of God who delights in lifting broken people. So now, Job ought to be thankful that God cares enough about him to discipline him. If Job does that everything will be just fine. Eliphaz concludes, “This is the way things are.” The thing that I find spooky here is that if this speech was, for instance, in the Psalms, I’d read it and not think anything about it, just accepting it as truth. It’s only as I realize who it is who says this and then skip to the end of the story that I realize I need to do some serious sifting through this kind of thinking if I’m to actually know “how things really are.” It isn’t that everything Job’s friends say is wrong. Instead it’s that not everything they say is right. This is a book for people who are willing to think about big issues.
Take Away: Beware of things you’ve easily believed.
The importance of the journey
Hebrews 5: Milk is for beginners…solid food is for the mature.
The book of Hebrews, like the book of Romans, contains some challenging material. Both are intended to be not only read, but studied. The writer of Hebrews tells his readers that he’s about to take them out into some deep waters, at least that’s his desire. The problem, he says, is that some aren’t ready for that journey. It would be understandable if they were fresh, new believers. However, he’s focusing on those who’ve been around awhile; who, by now, should be ready to move on in their understanding of spiritual things. There are, I see, various stages in our lives in Christ. Spiritual babes need to focus on the basics. Once those are mastered, it’s time to move on, not leaving those things behind, but, instead, building on them as we move forward. On one hand, it’s dangerous for people to “camp out” just inside the gate. On the other hand, it’s dangerous for people to jump into the deeper water without first learning to swim. The church should be a place for people at the various stages of spiritual life. People should find their way in, become established, move into the deeper things of God and then begin helping others who are just finding their way in. Personally, I’m somewhere on that journey, farther along than others are but not as advanced as the rest. I think that in our eyes the destination is most important while in God’s eyes the journey is more important than the destination.
Take Away: Spiritual growth is necessary in the Christian life – but it’s not automatic.