Monday, May 21, 2012

The Gift of Not Knowing

"Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?  No; he would pay attention to me." - Job 23:6

I have a hard time wrapping my brain around Job.  It's a difficult book to say the least.

In it you have Job's friends saying stuff that you begin to nod your head to, only to find Job unleashing on them in anger.  His friends aren't simplistic in their explanations necessarily, but they are always off.  And Job is on, or at least more on throughout.

It's funny, I've mentioned to Dad that many of Job's friends answers to his struggles would make good Psalms and sound very similar to Psalms.  But what they tend to miss is the nuances of relationship with God.  This is something that Job really underscores.

It's like Job is saying, throughout the book, "Look 'friends', God is not only real, but he cares."  I don't have to perform for God, for God will and should rescue me, it's his job.

And the great thing is, in the end, Job is applauded for his perspective.  That God is a God of grace and condescension, talking and hearing our pain, is applauded by God himself.

So why are we hesitant to scream out to God?  Why are we afraid that God will smite us?  I think it's because we like formulas and methods.  If I do this, God will do this.  If I do that, God will do that.  Formulas and methods are safe.  And they make good gods.

But they don't listen to our deep hearts' cries.  They aren't willing to sit with us and hear our case.  They are safe in that we can't point at them or blame them when things go bad, we just have to tweak them.

The problem is obvious.  God is no formula.  He acts in ways that are frankly bewildering.

Job deals with the problem of evil, and the weird thing is, at the end of the book, it's still a problem.  God is just fine with tension.  He's ok with knowing the end-game, and he seems to be ok us not knowing it.

But one thing he is not ok with is our formulas.  He's not ok with simplistic explanations about him.

I think this is an argument for being a humble and dependent Christian.  We simply don't have all the answers, but we know that God is good.  We know that he rescues.  We know that he cares.

But timing, evil, seeming distance, and the facts that we can't hear him, see him, or know him like we know other people, are problems and should be problems.   As Christians I don't think we're supposed to just have more faith, or defend our little God.  I think like Job, we can confidently assert God's goodness, while at the same time saying, "Man, I really don't know, God hasn't let me in on that one."

Why?  Because we don't know.  I think this is a gift that we can give to others, the gift of not knowing everything.  It's very refreshing and very human.