I wonder why I don’t have enough or strong enough faith sometimes. But really, that is just a roadblock I construct, not one that is actually there.
Faith is a gift. It isn’t miraculously or heroically pulled out of our insides, but dropped in our hands and heart when we open them widely enough. And it often hurts when it lands there. You do not get what you need from God by having enough faith, but you ask for faith so you can experience what it is that God has already given you.
The act of turning to God for more faith, is an act of faith already. To ask for it is evidence that the request has already been granted. Trust it.
Greg, I was thinking of this in relation to your message yesterday, especiaIly the part about having faith in a God that doesn’t play games with you. I was sitting next to one of my friends during the service who was not raised in a church family and JW is his first real active exposure to church. He is open to learning, but also views “faith” with suspicion (I can empathize, of course). So in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way yesterday, he leaned over to me and responded to your line “God doesn’t play games with you” with the comment “…unless you are Job.”
I’ve had this conversation before about the disturbing nature of the puppet-master God in Job’s story. I’ve been told by those much more well-versed in theology that “Job is a very complex story.” I can sort of buy that, but sort of…not. How do you reconcile a God that doesn’t play games with us with the God who destroyed Job’s life just to prove a point?
My response… you really think Job is history? Actually there are many ancient near eastern parallels to the Job story. I can pass them on if you are interested. Among biblical genres, Job is wisdom literature. A puzzling through (or to use prime Jacob’s Well language, a wrestling with) who we are, who God is, and how the world works.
Always look at the largest witness of the Bible, where does it point? Let that biggest view help you interpret the idiosyncratic stories. The danger is to do it the other way around, that is to find an isolated story and to allow it to color your reading of the whole Bible. Doesn’t work that way.
Back to your point – yeah, the book of Job looks like God is playing Job like a marionette on strings. But that is a 21st century reader’s mistake that readers in antiquity wouldn’t have made. The Job story was an established story-type. The ‘game’ isn’t the message, it’s the vehicle. The message is what Job discovered about God.
I’ll stand by my bold, good news that God does not play games. God is the straight shooter of the universe. The only one. But the love that God shoots with is so fierce that it burns – which we perceive as pain – but it is the heat of a crucible. But now I’m getting into another sermon…
Nice post, Greg. It’s been a while since I’ve been out here… Looking forward to more.
Hey there! I heard you speak at the Book of Faith conference at Luther. I just got my first call to a congregation in Stewartville, Minnesota (8 miles south of Rochester). I graduated from LSTC in May.
Thanks for your workshop at the conference. I’ve been thinking and praying about the many seeds in planted!
Thanks for letting me know you were there. I enjoyed the interaction and hope some of what I shared was helpful. I’ll check out your blog (http://theladypastor.blogspot.com) I’m dying to get back to mine. I have stuff everyday I want to pop in there but have been parking it all to get other things done. Keep in touch.