Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sermon preview--My Redeemer Lives

The book of Job is a difficult one for two reasons. First of all, it’s a terrifying story. We want to believe that if we are good people, God owes us happiness and prosperity. But Job was more righteous than any of us, and God allowed unthinkable things to happen to him: He lost all of his children and all of his wealth in one day. Then God took away his health and left him with a debilitating, seemingly chronic illness. The other difficult thing about this book is that it’s essentially a theological debate between Job and three of his friends. After Job loses everything, when he’s so downhearted that his own wife encourages him to kill himself, his three friends come to visit him. For seven days, they sit in silence with him. That’s what we all need when we are suffering…just someone to be with us. Then they make the worst mistake of all. They open their mouths. From chapter 3 to chapter 37, Job describes his confusion about what God has allowed to happen to him, and Job’s friends respond by saying, essentially, “You deserve this. Now take it like a man.” Then in chapter 38—spoiler alert!—God shows up and brings the story to a close. You’re going to like the ending, but if you’re like most of us, you won’t like those middle 35 chapters. We’re just not used to thinking this deeply about God.

Don’t be deceived. This isn’t a book about why bad things happen to good people. Even when God shows up, He doesn’t address that question. In fact, when God shows up, He’s the one asking the questions. No, this is really a story about faith. Hebrews 11 defines faith as being certain of what we hope for and sure of what we can’t see. In other words, faith is believing in that which we can’t prove. But it’s more than simply intellectual belief. I may believe intellectually that an airplane can take me from here to Dallas in less than an hour, but until I actually get on the plane, I haven’t demonstrated faith. We all have faith of some kind. Even an atheist has faith; every time he gets in his car, he has faith that the internal combustion engine isn’t going to explode and kill him; instead, it’s going to propel him toward his destination. I have faith that my wife truly loves me, and that faith in her love is an important factor in the person I am. I can’t prove her love to you; you might infer that she loves me since she’s chosen to live with me nearly 20 years—which I can assure you is no picnic—but you can believe whatever you want to believe. Job believed certain things about God. He couldn’t prove those things were true. In fact, his three very religious friends believed very different things about God. But in the end, it is Job’s faith that proves true. Job’s faith literally saves his life.

This Sunday, we'll take a good look at what Job's faith--true faith--consists of. Hopefully, you and I will never experience the hardship that Job faced, but we will need true faith throughout our lives to pass the tests of this world. Faith is not like physical height--it's not something you are either born with or born without. It's more like a muscle. God created us with the potential for faith, but we must develop it. Developing a Job-like faith could save your life.

1 comment:

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