My posts apparently only come in Extra Large these days. I want to talk about Job as I enter into reading his book in an analytical way. I’ve talked around this many times, but it’s time to confront who we really are in this world.
When I met most of my friends I was not a Christian, and I did not believe in a capital-G God. A universal power, a clock-maker, a goddess maybe, but certainly not the Father. I believed all religions were equal, sure: equally foolish. I believed knowledge and experience were the chief goal of life and so I set my faith in science and the “real” world. I knew a couple things about Christians; namely that they: a) professed a passion for their god that was totally fake, and b) they were so lost in rule sets in that silly book that any misstep or question would immediately throw them into a panic. They were the sort of people that I couldn’t stand: they professed a belief that could not be questioned or explained because it was paper thin, but despite that form of ignorance they beat others with their blind faith, quite often to death.
I was a voice that tried desperately to override the term Religious Right because I thought associating conservative politics with religion made us seem small and foolish. I have, in my life, actually convinced others to mock God and walk away from their faith. You can read that me in my Facebook post history, I won’t deny that. Some of my readers are on my friends list precisely because they agreed with the old me. Some likely unfriended me after my conversion. Here’s the thing: there are millions of the old me wandering around this nation. They are rapidly reaching majority status, but more importantly they have the majority of media and education.
The people that call all religions identical do so because they are trying to create a safe space from which to educate people out of such a silly thing as faith. There’s no one out there who prays to Jesus before a meal and Vishnu after; there is no such thing as multi-religionism. No, this is an educational tactic. If I can get you to admit that there is a single road to an afterlife besides Christ then I can convince you all religions are equal. From there I can convince you that faith is a deeply personal thing, and that what you believe to be true must be the truth. From there is a simple move to convince you to hide your faith for fear of offending anyone else. That established, I can convince you that faith is simply a manifestation of fear of death, and that what you really need to do is accept and process that fear. Once you’ve accepted the certainty of death properly it’s easy to see that God is a fantasy created by barbaric creatures and we have propagated it out of a quaint sense of duty. Bob’s your uncle, we’ve killed off religion and enlightened the world in less than a generation.
That is the mission, make no mistake. Those people you talk to about your faith who are “not religious”? Watch them. Watch their discomfort as you talk. That is not the squeamishness of uncertainty. No, that is the certainty that you are either naive, stupid, or crazy. They see video of people getting touched and falling to the floor and they see an elaborate lie. They see worshipers crying and lifting hands and they see a popularity contest of who can seem the most dedicated. They see people speaking in tongues, or masses preached in Latin, and it’s all just a manipulation to awe gullible people.
It’s not a problem of supernaturality, don’t miss that. They don’t dislike it because we are displaying the supernatural. Many of them easily accept ghosts or fairies or aliens, but the idea of our God making Himself known is abhorrent. Why? Because if He is real and if He acts through us, then He has abandoned them. Every “God if you [X] I promise I’ll never [Y]” now becomes an active rejection. Every pain is an act of viciousness. They deny Him because He has failed them, rejected them. And He’s done it to lift up these idiots that think Jesus was an English-speaking white guy. Look at the way they shake and roll around on the floor and speak nonsense; He can go and have His little club of crazies.
You think I’m carrying it too far, but I’m not. I thought these things, I said these things, I rabidly debated people on these things until their beliefs shook. This is the softest of the tactics; there were worse.
When I tried to take my first steps in understanding God I was confronted by two things that I believe are the single largest reason those millions of hearts are not seeing the glory and hope that I now know. Two things that held me distant and helped me to pervert his people. Those are silent faith and merciless legalism.
The thing is, I wasn’t wrong about most Christians; it was my understanding of them, not my knowledge of them, that was flawed. It is true that many Christians profess a Love for God that is not genuine, so they don’t confess Him. It is true that many Christians have a corrupt view of God thanks to corrupt churches or lack of church. It is true that many Christians have such a fragile belief that any question at all would shatter it, so they protect it viciously through citation of the Law. What is also true, what I didn’t understand, is that Christianity is a journey, not a destination. It’s not “I’m Saved; switch flipped, problem solved.”
That presents a real challenge, because outside the Kingdom every one of us is a visual beacon of what Christianity is, so if we’re still learning, still falling down, that is the picture shown to the world of what Christ is. For every Mother Teresa there’s a hundred pedophile priests. For every devoted fellowship there’s a Westboro Baptist. For every Greg Laurie there are a million Christians who refuse to speak about their faith to anyone outside their church. It is human nature that we accept the information that agrees with us and we ditch what doesn’t, so the lost remember only the pedophiles and the Westboros, and they count the silent among their number, further bolstering their beliefs. I, more than once, pointed out that a believer who doesn’t talk about it isn’t really a believer at all. We’re not starting conversations on a neutral ground; it’s a rabidly hostile one. It’s a world of “Happy Holidays” and “sending positive vibes”, and where each time those words are said what is actually being said is “Christ hates me so He can go to hell”.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians that the wisdom of the Spirit is foolishness to the Greeks, but I think he undersells it. Or maybe the Greeks weren’t quite as vicious as Neil deGrasse Tyson or Richard Dawkins. The media is filled stem to stern with men and women who charm our hearts and then use that platform as a bully’s pulpit to convince us that science has proven that there is no God, and they do so with such gusto, such confident assurance, it produces only three results: it taints your beliefs, eventually shifting them away from God altogether, or it produces a defensiveness that is constantly assaulted until any growth on your part ceases because all you do is fight their message, or you reject the message and walk away. But that last requires walking away from the world, so how do we reconcile that with our daily lives?
Paul also asks the open question: where is the disputer of this world? Where is the voice contradicting the wave of absolute hatred for our Father? Well let’s examine that. Where is the disputer of the world?
Christ commanded that we should go forth and disciple. “Tend My sheep.” His sheep know His call, but can they know ours is His proxy? Surely so; He commanded that we do it, so it must be that we can reach them. He was the propitiation for our sins and ALSO the sins of the whole world. Not the world of believers, not the world of those who perked up their ears to hear him, but every beating heart ever to walk the globe from the first step of Adam to the heat death of the universe. This is not a deck stacked against us. So where are the followers of Christ who are trying to reach the old me and turn my heart to Him?
The book of Job opens with some very simple descriptions of the man, but what is clear from them, if you really build the movie in your mind, is that this man was upright through force of habit alone. There was no passion there, no fire for God. He knew, but he didn’t believe. He had knowledge, but not understanding. One perfect citation of this is that he would make offerings on behalf of his children in case they had sinned. Think of the plurality of mistrust there. He didn’t trust his sons and daughters not to cross God. He didn’t trust himself enough to minister to them on their behavior. He didn’t trust the Word enough to understand he couldn’t offering-away the sins of another person. He didn’t trust God enough to ask Him what to do. He chose a path of seeing God as judge and spent his days trying to keep himself and his kids out of court. That’s not a life in Love with the Lord.
He was the living embodiment of the two qualities I mentioned: silent faith and merciless legalism. He lived according to every letter of the Law, but missed its point. He kept to himself, never trying to share his God with others, even his own family. Pardon me, but that’s a vast majority of professed Christians I know, myself included. Sure I write about God here and on social media. My wife and I discuss God at restaurants and public places for others to overhear; I’ve even been known to minister to people when there’s an opening to do so, but only when there’s an opening. I find myself downing myself over the things I do, not quite seeing Him as judge, but certainly seeing Him as a disappointed Father who wishes I’d do better. The thought that a one of you would not know what it is to Love Christ pains me, but clearly not enough that I’ll go talk to you individually. So many of us have allowed politeness or political correctness or awkwardness to hold still our tongues.
But let me tell us all something: Satan doesn’t need you dead (though he enjoys that), he doesn’t need you corrupt (though it makes you a great tool of his). No, he just needs you quiet. That’s all. Because your silence tells everyone who sees you that you are on their side. It’s right up there in the banner graphic for this post: can two walk together except they be agreed? If you’re talking with someone and they are speaking and you keep quiet, you are agreeing with them. If they are spreading Satan’s words, what does that mean? That’s right, it means you’re agreeing with Satan. I know, it hurts. I feel that stinging conviction, too. But I have to keep going, because there’s more.
If you’ve ever owned a nervous dog you have seen that wincing shrug that happens when you raise your hand because they are expecting you to hit them. Even if you’ve never touched them in anger they have an instinctual knowledge that you could harm them, so they fear your touch until it’s shown to be Loving. If that doesn’t make your cheeks flush with the understanding that you see God’s hand the same way you are a lot more grown in your faith than me and probably shouldn’t be reading my blog. I had a theology class in which the instructor asked students to write down one word that describes God to them. The answers ranged: judge, king, lord, Father, cop, redeemer, savior. Every one a place of power. Every one a job that had the ability to smite you. Every one showing we are dogs who don’t know if He is going to smack us or pet us, so we shrink away in fear until we know for sure.
The Bible is literally chock full of such people. “Fear of God”, “fear of God”, “I will fear You”, “they were full of the fear of God.” From Adam to Paul it’s people talking about the fear of God. Because fear is who we are, it’s one of the few universals we all understand, it is a necessary component for those who would do evil. But once we’re past such negative, death-worshipping views we cannot be further motivated by far, only frustrated. We must change to a positive frame of reference, and we seek motivation for that. Too often, we find none, so we sink back to fear. But we all have in us the ability to be the other dog; the one who wags his tail and rolls over on his back fully expecting you’re going to pet him every time. Or better: we can listen to His Word. When Job finally learns who God really is the Word says God accepts him. Maybe that doesn’t express it deeply enough for you. The Word says God calls Abraham friend. Maybe still not strong enough? Let me go right to The Word.
In John 17 Christ says it in a mind-blowing way. He says that He will be one with His sheep as He and the Father are one. Do you really get that? He is saying that the Trinity isn’t a Trinity anymore, but that through Christ Jesus we all, as the body of Christ, are a part of it. When you read my prayer at the end of my blogs this is why I say “Your Word, and my brother, Jesus”: not because I presume some high status, but because He Himself calls me His brother as He calls all of us His brothers and sisters. He’s not putting Himself in a position of authority over us, though He certainly has that right. No, He instead calls us His equals. Who am I, and who are you, to argue that point? Who are we to tell God that He needs to get back on His throne and rule over us?
But we do it all the same. We wait for Him to hit us. We fail to trust Him. Because we don’t trust Him, we don’t celebrate Him. We don’t trust that we can speak His proxy. We don’t trust that He will back us up when we walk out on the water. We don’t trust that He will heal the sick, cleanse the demon-possessed, or raise the dead if we ask it. Because we know better than to think such things are possible; science and rationale of the natural world have proven it. Right? Well, no. I can say that twice in my life I’ve had that complete trust of Him, that childlike trust, and watched him miraculously heal. The problem is not that He stopped doing miracles, it’s that we “educated” our species out of believing they were possible.
I know you think I’m rambling through different points here, but I’m not. I ask, again, Paul’s question: where is the disputer of this world? If we’re so preoccupied trying to figure out if God is who we say He is our who Christ says He is then who is out tending the lost sheep? We have got to stop it. We have got to get out of our heads and start acting. While we’re wringing our hands there are millions, if not billions, of the old me out there trying to eradicate us by degrees. Through inaction we do Satan’s work for him as readily as with our silence.
“As for me and my house, we will praise the Lord”? Nope. “We will thank the Lord?” Nope. Be grateful to the Lord? Worship? Love? Pray to? Follow? No on all counts. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Our King, our master, our Father and Creator. We will listen and we will obey, and by this will the world know we are Christ, at unity with the Almighty God of Heaven’s armies. Because that, saints, is what He commissioned us to do, that is who we are to this world. We are the disputer, we are the proxy of God, we are the anointed Christ. It is our duty to ensure we are the face of the church, shielding and enabling those not yet able to serve fully. Our voices are the pinprick that will pop the over-inflated balloon of the skeptic, the empty, the lost. It is imperative that we use them, and use them according to His call.
Father, I watched this week as the media again propped up a dead celebrity instead of our Risen King. I realized instantly why You had me writing this. Thank You for Your patience, Your prescience, and Your guidance. I have not served You as I should. I have not spread the gospel, but I am committed to. I will mark every time I want to say “Thank you” to someone and instead say “God bless you, and thank you”. I will fail. I will feel stupid. I will probably blush. But I know the instant someone smiles and responds, or even just shows a vulnerability for me to talk about You it will all be washed away. I am not content with a cushy relationship with You. I want to serve You, Lord. Help me want it ever more; help me show the world that I trust You.
More, help any who read this to understand it is not an admonition, but a bolstering supportive cheer. I see, across this nation, people standing up to do things and say things they would never do because their zeal for You is intensifying. Lord, I cannot possibly express my gratitude that I am one of them or my joy that You have given me eyes to see it and ears to hear it. I don’t know what a revival looks like; I never had the history to see one. But I think it is now, and it’s not in an area but across the globe. The earth will rejoice, Your people cry out. Lord of all the earth, we will shout Your name. The enemy will try to silence us and through our eyes Your glare will shut his mouth and send him scurrying like the rat he is. Show us Your cathedral, Father. Show us what You can do with a willing soul, and let that cure spread to the ends of the earth that not one will remain who does not confess You.
I know Your last prophecy, but I see it as clearly as we see the one You gave Jonah. I don’t need Revelation, I don’t care what we think is supposed to happen. Show us, Father. Forget making the sun stand still or raising some dead. Use us to cure every heart of its bitterness toward You. I believe You can and are willing to do this. I trust You for it. Like no other prayer I have ever said or written I pray this, Lord. I will serve You regardless, You know that, but I can already feel the joy of watching tens of millions realize; seeing the whole church watch as that prophecy is collapsed by Love between and among us and You. I see it as truly as if it had already happened. In the name of Your Word, and my brother, Jesus, I pray. I Love You, I praise You, I trust You, I serve You. Amen!