Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Fullness of God

Job's friends, because they knew everything they needed to know about God to intellectually agree that He was God and that He existed, falsely believed that this meant they knew everything about God. This false confidence led them to become arrogant, something that Job calls them out on. 

You think you're so smart? You think you know everything there is to know? 

And then, Job tells them exactly what a person who is confident in his own knowledge wants to hear: you're right.

Everything you've said about God is true, Job tells his friends. And you can just imagine the little smug look on their faces when he says this. You can just imagine them sitting there waiting on his confession to come next. They are right, and that means it's only a matter of time before Job confesses that since they are right about these things, they are right about everything. It's only a matter of time before Job humbles himself before them and admits that he is the kind of wicked sinner they keep accusing him of being. They are certain it's only moments away before Job completes his affirmation of them and falls at their feet. 

We all know persons like this, don't we? We sometimes are persons like this, aren't we? We know what we know, and as soon as it looks like what we know is legitimately true at all, we just get all puffed up in ourselves. This goes back to the discussion about truth we were having recently - we know what we know, and it makes us confident. And then, it makes us arrogant. And the moment that any breath or bit of our truth is confirmed, well...we become...smug jerks. We become more bold in the things that we say because if we're right about one thing, then we must be right about everything. 

If we know one thing about God, then we must know everything about God. 

But what if our knowledge is just sufficient and not beautiful?

Job's friends don't get the moment their prideful hearts are waiting for. Job never crumbles in front of them, never confesses how wicked he secretly is, never affirms for them that they know everything. Rather, what Job says next really puts his friends in their place. He says: 

You're right...but everyone knows these things. 

These truths that Job's friends know are such commonplace truths that no one would dispute them. Everyone knows them. Everyone - everyone - has exactly the same kind of knowledge that Job's friends have. And that means it's not that special. That means it's not that impressive that they know this. In fact, Job expects them to know these things. Anyone reasonable would expect them to know these things. 

What they don't know, Job says, is what he knows. What they don't have a grasp on is what his kind of life experience alone can teach. They know all the truth about God that they need to know in comfortable times, but for Job, these are not comfortable times, and so he understands something about God that doesn't fit in their box. 

That's the thing we have to realize when we read Job. That's why this discussion is so important. Because at no point were Job's friends wrong about God. Everything they said about God was true. They knew it; Job knew it; we know it. We can't fault Job's friends on their theology. 

But their theology was not complete. They were men who knew God, but who did not love Him. And certainly, I think it's safe to say, did not feel loved by Him. They were men who had sufficient knowledge of God, but not beautiful knowledge of Him. They had everything they needed to agree to the notion that God is God, and they thought that was enough. But in times of trial, as Job knew, they needed more.

So do we. 

It's great to have sufficient knowledge about God. It's great to know for certain that He is God. But until and unless we know more of Him, until and unless we know the beautiful things, it's not enough. It won't sustain us in times of trouble. It won't call to us in times of hope. It won't draw on us in times of despair. We have to know not just God's existence, but His goodness. We have to know not just His power, but His love. We have to know not just that He is so much bigger than us, but how big His love for us is. 

We get all arrogant, thinking that we know it all, but we don't. We never do. There is always something bigger of God to learn, always something greater, always something deeper. And that's why we can never settle for the first kind of knowledge; we must always be pushing toward the second. 

We must always be longing for the beautiful. 

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