Sunday, June 8, 2014

Speaking of God what is Right; Why I Study Theology

There were once some friends of this guy who was suffering.  They were good friends, they came and sat with their friend for seven days.  Their friend had lost everything, all his good, his kids, his health and now he was sitting in ashes.  They joined him in the ashes, not saying a word because of his great distress.  After seven days, they tried to help their friend, and they said some things that sounded pretty reasonable.  They simply told their friend that he must have messed up.  God is just and is good to good people, He is bad to bad people.  Since bad things happened to their friend, he must be a bad person and he needs to repent.

If you don't know, this story is about Job in the Old Testament in the book that shares his name.  Job was a good man, a righteous man who was also wealthy and well off.  God allowed Satan to torment him, taking everything but his life.  Job was in a bad place, sitting in the ashes.  Job had some good friends who came to comfort him, and they meant well, but they didn't help much.  They decided it must be Job's fault, God must be punishing him.

We think like that sometimes, don't we?  A hurricane comes through and floods a city that is famous for its debauchery, then we assume God is judging it.  Many have said and will continue to say that God is or has or will judge America or Europe.  There are some who look at people groups or cultures and they declare that God's wrath is coming or has come.  We assume that God will pour out His wrath on bad people and pour blessings on the good people.  Isn't that how we expect God to work?  It makes sense to us, so maybe Job's friends had a point.

Let's not pick on these three, Jonah had the same idea.  He expected God to rain fire and brimstone down on Nineveh.  The Jews expected God to destroy the Babylonians (which eventually He did).   Even the Apostles assumed that after the resurrection, Jesus would restore the kingdom and take on and take out Rome.  Assyria, Babylon, Rome, they were the bad guys because they did bad things.  Israel were the good guys, God's chosen people.  It makes sense that good people get good things, bad people get bad things, so that is how God should work.  Right?  Job's friends thought so and often we do too.

How much of our theology is based on the way we think God should operate?  We say a lot of things that aren't really justified by scripture, but they make sense to us.  We say things like "have you found Jesus" when no one finds Him, no one goes up to Heaven to find Him, He finds us.  We say things like we need to have a "personal relationship with Jesus".  I have no idea where that statement comes from, we have a relationship with Christ and with His church, not sure where the "personal" part even comes from.  We say things in our church lingo that sounds good to us, but is it "what is right"?

God tells Job's three friends that He is angry with them because they have no spoken of Him what is right.  He tells them that Job will pray for them and they will be spared.  They had to take a sacrifice up and Job would offer them.  The reason is because Job wasn't bad, and what was happening to him was happening because he was righteous.  Does that make sense?  Not in human logic, we would never assume that's the case, but it's reality.  We are told we would be persecuted for righteousness, that the world would hate us, that we need to be on the defense against the flaming arrows of the Devil.  Things are bad for good people, and often good for bad people.  It doesn't make sense in our human logic, but in the eternal plan of God, it makes perfect sense.

So, here is my question.  How is your theology?  Do you say stuff that makes sense, ensure that God and His ways are "fair and balanced"?  If so, you may find yourself in the company of Job's friends.  Good men, good friends, bad theologians.  Their heart was in the right place, and they spoke what they thought was right.  Their thoughts where much lower than God's thoughts, so we must learn and study.  Theology is important, so make sure to study before you speak.

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