Human beings have come a long way. Some of our advancements are downright miraculous. Heart transplants, splitting the atom, instantaneous world-wide communication, space travel, genetic mapping, antibiotics, Facebook (just kidding), and a whole host of cures and advancements testify to human brilliance and potential. If we were to present our modern abilities to people from the past, they might think us gods.
Ironically, some of us think we are god-like today too.
It’s like the old joke where a group of brilliant scientists challenge God to a contest to create life just like God did in the beginning. The scientists believe they are up to the task. One bends down for a fist full of soil but God stops him saying, “Sorry, you have to get your own dirt.”
Silly joke or harsh truth?
Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.
TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
2 Corinthians 5:11-21: Do we know what it is to “fear the Lord” as Paul said the Corinthians did? Fear in this passage does not refer to a “Friday the Thirteenth” terror. But rather to respect. Terror rises from a lack of knowledge, not knowing what waits in the dark. The fear of God, however, flows from knowledge. Paul believes we can know God and ourselves well enough to look on God with respect and ourselves with honesty. Terror dreads the unknown; fear respects reality as we know it.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” The Creator demands of the creature, Job.
To his credit Job says, “I have no answer.”
Many of us experiencing Job’s pain, would feel justified in shouting back, “Who do you think you are, God?” We believe our autonomy and accomplishments entitle us to equal footing with God.
“If I were God, I would not make people worship me,” I once quipped to a friend. I’ve heard others say, “If I were God, I would cure cancer or end war or poverty or . . . .”
It’s as if the entire planet is infected with the Bruce Almighty Syndrome. In the movie “Bruce Almighty” Jim Carey plays a frustrated, angry TV reporter named Bruce Nolan. Bruce demands God answer his questions but is not prepared for God to do so.
Suddenly endowed with God’s almighty power, Bruce works tiny, meaningless, even mean, self-centered miracles. One of the most telling miracles is when he selfishly enlarges his girlfriend’s breasts. Silly joke; harsh truth.
The truth is, like Bruce, most of us wouldn’t use God’s power to end poverty or cure cancer–not at first anyway. And even with as far as we have come and as intelligent as we are, we would have no clue what to do with the immense power God wields. Still we insist on going toe to toe with God, thinking we will badger or bash an answer out of him.
Hear though, I am not advocating blind belief and dumb doubt. Job questioned God. He asked why. But in so doing, Job did not consider himself equal to God, or as we often feel, above God. Our struggle is that we often not only command God answer our questions, we demand he prove his existence–if we don’t believe–and prove his love–if we do. Yet if God did answer, the explanation would not take away the emotional pain that prompted the query. And these demands of God almost always bleed out of our pain and loss.
“God, why?” Job cries.
“Job, I let all your children be murdered and your wealth and health disappear so that every generation who reads your story will be encouraged,” God might say.
“I am glad others will learn from my pain,” Job might answer. “But, Lord, I still miss my children. Even in these beautiful new children you have given me, I sometimes see the faces and hear the laughter of the lost ones. I am thankful, but my heart still is broken.”
“I know,” God nods.
I believe God may not receive our commands and demands as an affront to his power, holiness, and mysterious ways–though they surely are–but rather as an exercise in futility. Like the explanation of gravity given to a four-year-old, God’s answers make little sense to us. God’s questions of Job, “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?” are not God putting Job in his place but rather showing Job his place. We are not God and cannot know life and pain and mystery as God knows it. That is not a putdown, but a reality.
Is there a remedy for Bruce Almighty Syndrome? Drop the almighty attitude. Simply become Bruce Nolan or Jim Carey or Eugene Scott, whoever God created you to be. Let go the demands, the pretensions. Job says, “I am unworthy” and puts his hand over his mouth. Saying thus opens us then to God’s touch, if not God’s answer, and is an act of faith, humility and–ultimately–an act of strength.
- What do these for passages share in common?
- How do you see yourself in Job?
- What passage spoke most to you?
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