OT: Job 1:1-3:26
I've heard the story of Job a million times, and by that I mean, I've heard the beginning, received a quick gloss over that middle stuff, and heard the end. Yet, today, the story struck me freshly. My brother's birthday is coming up, and I remember a specific quote from a video testimony that he gave that said, "And then I started reading Job, and saw what He did to Job, and I started getting angry with God..." I think that Mike's conviction that he was an innocent sufferer like Job is casting this book in a more profound, urgent light than I normally read it.
I read Harris' commentary on Job in Understanding the Bible, and then I wrote a long, borderline incoherent response. Then I mercifully deleted it. Perhaps I can sum it up in a few sentence: Although I firmly believe that following God and living a life of love means that you will have a better life than if you were to live in selfishness and sin, it is also abundantly clear that the righteous and innocent do suffer in this fallen world. Thus, I am very thankful to have a book of the Bible that openly addresses the idea of the righteous suffering.
From what I can tell from the first few chapters, the answer to the question, "Why do the righteous suffer," can be boiled down to "because God is God, and we are not." The Bible has made very clear thus far that God does directly cause at least some amount of the suffering of the world.
NT: 1 Cor. 14:1-17
No one I know speaks in tongues or prophecies, so a lot of this chapter does not relate directly to my life. That said, I found the depiction of speaking in tongues to be interesting. From this chapter, I get the impression that when a person spoke in tongues, he or she was overwhelmed with God's Spirit and propelled by that Spirit to pour forth words to God in an unintelligible language only understood by God. Apparently, the speaker didn't even understand what he was saying, unless God revealed it to him.
Thus, even though Paul likes the idea of speaking in tongues, he recognizes that it doesn't have a ton of practical value. For one thing, it does nothing to edify the church at large, unlike prophecy. For that reason, Paul places prophecy above speaking in tongues, and he urges his audience to "excel in gifts that build up the church" (12).
When you think of the value of gifts in those terms, it is easy to see why love is the greatest gift. It builds up the church the most.
As a person who does not naturally exalt emotions, Paul's reasoning here makes sense to me. I am the type of person who, for example, would rather do something practical for God than worship Him through song. Don't get me wrong--I do love singing. I understand that it is a valuable act of worship, and I love the way that it connects me to God on a deep, emotional level. Service just makes more sense to me. Thus, I am going to interpret this passage as backing up my feelings on service verses worship:). Service builds up the church more, while singing is mostly for the singer.
I could give caveats, but I think that instead, I'll leave the door wide open for anyone who wants to disagree:).
David continues to express His assurance of God's faithfulness, despite all appearances to the contrary. Reading over this psalm kind of opened my eyes to something. My Harris book contrasts the theology of Job (bad things happen to good people) with Deuteronomy, Proverbs, and Ezekiel (good things happen to good people; bad things happen to bad people). And yet, in the Psalms, we see the melding of both these theories. David understands good and well that the righteous suffer through no fault of their own. He considers himself Exhibit A of that phenomenon. And yet, he also has faith that, ultimately, justice will prevail. Despite the fact that sorrows befall him regularly, He still maintains faith in the idea that the righteous are never forsaken (25).
Two proverbs against laziness.