Monday, April 17, 2023

Broken Theology

When someone's living a long Saturday, our broken theology - or our very poor theology of brokenness - starts to show. We come up with all kinds of things to say that sound pretty good, maybe because we use the word "God" in them sometimes - and that seem to make a lot of sense, but they just aren't true. They aren't biblical. They aren't God-honoring. 

When someone's living a long Saturday, we all seem to become Job's friends. 

In fact, most of our broken theology comes from the book of Job and our misinterpretation of it. 

For example, we might say something like, "God helps those who help themselves." And this would be a reference to Job's friends and wife telling him it's time to get up and get on with living. It's time to move on and just do the best he can. It's time to stop thinking about God and start thinking about tomorrow. But, of course, nowhere does God affirm this line of thinking. Nowhere. And though we think we read it into the pages, there's no such "wisdom" in the Bible that God helps those who help themselves. 

Or maybe we say that it's time for someone living on Saturday to confess their sin and ask God to cleanse their heart. Job's friends loved this line of thinking and kept pressing him to confess that he has sinned. Of course he had sinned; if he hadn't sinned, he wouldn't be in this spot right now. But God dashes that one on the rocks, too. God makes clear that it's not about sin. Not always, anyway. So even though we live in a theology that claims that we are all sinners all the time and always destined to Hell but for the grace of God at our begging, this one doesn't hold water, either. 

Sometimes, we say that God doesn't give anyone more than they can handle. We justify this by saying that Job did, in fact, make it through his troubles. God knew he could take it, we conclude. Any other man would have scratched his own eyes out with that broken pottery or gone ahead and killed himself, as Job sometimes seemed to be thinking about. But Job didn't do any of that, which proves that Job was a man with sufficient stamina to endure what the world - or, we imply, God Himself - was throwing at him. God knew it wouldn't break Job, so Job was the man for this brokenness. 

Uhm, have you watched Job? This brokenness broke him. It destroyed him. It turned and twisted his body and his soul. It tormented him. It threw him into terrible grief. God doesn't want anyone to live this way; that's why He went to the Cross. That's what Jesus was all about - that we wouldn't taste this sting of death and trauma and tragedy. And not once, not once, does God pat Job on the back and say, "I knew you were the right man for despair and destruction. I knew you could handle it." God never says that to anybody. (Except Jesus.) This kind of theology is absolute bunk. 

Here's one that absolutely blows my mind: "you must be doing something right." Your whole life is laying in shambles, your heart is distraught, your body is bent, your spirit in broken, and someone has the nerve to look at you and say, "Man, your life must be on an incredible path! You must be doing something right!" In other words, the devil must have stepped in to do everything he could to stop you before you get to somewhere really glorious that you were heading. This gives way too much power to our adversary. Way too much. And it's not an example that we see in the Bible. It's just not. Except, of course, in Job, where Job's life is going well and the devil steps in to tempt him. But that's not the overwhelming example of the Bible; it's just a small piece that we've taken to try to comfort ourselves when really, it doesn't apply here. And how horrible it is to hear that your life is falling apart because you were doing everything right. Why should I ever do anything right again?

Closely related to that is one more, and this one deserves even more space, so we'll talk about it tomorrow.  

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