Friday, June 2, 2017

Dismissing the Darkness

There is one glaring omission from the conversation between Job and his friends. It is an omission that we know only because the story gives us more information than perhaps Job had, but it is important nonetheless:

Not one man in the book of Job mentions the tempter. 

At the outset of the book, we are told that God is in conversation with the tempter, bragging about Job's righteousness and faithfulness and permitting this dark force to mess with Job a little bit, confident that Job will never curse God, but continue to praise Him. And then as we go through the book, that's exactly what we see - Job and his friends drawing on everything that God is. Not one mention of darkness. Not one mention of evil. Not one mention of an opposing force.

Our modern theology has been playing a lot with the idea of demons and of darkness, of Satan. We're not sure really how much attention we're supposed to give him. On the one hand, we know that powers of darkness exist; they are testified to throughout the Scriptures, from Job to the Gospels, where Jesus spends what seems like a good deal of His time casting out demons. Clearly, the demonic is real. At the same time, there's just something about it that we're not that into, so we're prone to dismiss entirely any effect that darkness might be having on our light.

I don't know what Job and his friends thought about all of this. I don't know if, in the backs of their minds (as so often in the backs of ours), they thought there might be demons afoot. I don't know if they were hesitant to say anything because they didn't want to accidentally give a foothold to darkness. I don't know if any such thoughts even crossed their minds. The Bible just doesn't tell us. 

But what it does tell us is that they didn't waste their breath on it. 

Throughout the entire ordeal, throughout their entire conversation, throughout their entire theology, not one of these men mentions the powers of darkness; they focus exclusively on the goodness that they know of God. 

We would be wise to do the same.

There are some who aren't going to agree with me on that, and that's okay, but what honestly do we owe the darkness? What do we owe it? Nothing at all.

And what good does it do us to know anything about the darkness if we already know everything about the Light? (Or everything that we can know about the Light?) Job and his friends might have known there were other powers and play, but what does it matter? The powers of evil do not change the powers of Good. Satan doesn't fundamentally change who God is or how He loves. God is pure love. He always is exactly what He is, and He doesn't change.

So what good does it do us to dwell on the things that try to stand against Him when we could invest our energies in the One who stands against those things? How does it benefit us to develop a theology of Judas in the shadow of the Cross? It doesn't! And that's what Job does so well.

He doesn't know what's going on - none of them do. But He doesn't waste his time trying to figure it out, either. He knows one thing for sure, and that's the very good nature of his incredible God, and on that, he rests. On that, his friends base their counsel. Nobody's talking about what to do with demons; they're all focused on how to trust in God. 

And isn't that all we need?

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