My latest challenge is to understand how God, the God who healed EVERYONE He came across when He walked among us, could be the same God of Job chapter 1. I know that God is perfectly consistent with Himself; that He loves us and has always loved us; that He paid a sufficient price for us to be healed in every way; and that the Old Testament is equally consistent with the New, and that no interpretation or revelation can contradict the inspired Word of God. I know that Jesus is perfect Theology. So, even as I wrestle with these two seemingly contradictory truths, Job and Jesus, I know that God will take me deeper into Himself, into His truth, and that I will, therefore, serve Him better for it.
Theology is like a horseshoe. Cheap horseshoes are bought ready-made, one size fits most. They don’t fit the foot, and the foot does not fit the shoe. And soon after horse and rider begin to make demands of the poorly shod feet, the shoe begins to move until the nails loosen and the shoe is thrown. The result is that the horse is no longer suited to the rider, no longer of use to the master. Even worse, the horse may go lame when the demands made on it cause permanent damage to the feet.
Religious orthodoxy develops through history, impacted by many factors that usually warp the truth to suit man’s desire for domination, control, or at best desire to suit his own immediate needs. Denominations differentiate themselves via doctrine that tends towards division rather than finding unity in God Himself, and His Spirit who reveals Him to us: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” (Eph 4:4-7)
Theology, that is off-the-shelf, pat, a verse for every occasion, accepted without understanding from denomination or seminary, is a poor footing from which to live, serve God, and minister to those around us. God never meant us to swallow doctrine without great wrestling. Paul tells us to be like the Bereans, to test teachings in the Word. But not just intellectually studying the bible. Theology must be tested in the heat of life, tested by trials and tribulations. Each element pounded and fitted by the Holy Spirit, not to suit our convenience, but truth tested in the truth of life.
Jesus attacked orthodoxy in the Pharisees: they made an idol of the Old Testament and neglected to let the Word of God take them into experiencing God. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Matt 23:23)
The good blacksmith heats each shoe in his forge. He then gently lifts each foot and, while cradling it on his lap at what can only be done at great exertion and pain, he checks the fit. He pounds the red-hot shoe with hammer on anvil. While hot he rechecks the fit. He pounds it some more until the fit is almost perfect, and then he presses the red-hot shoe into the foot, searing the hoof into a now perfect match: shoe and hoof suited one for the other, ready to meet the most arduous demands of horse and rider.
I’ve read some of the commentaries on Job, and have never been satisfied. And even less so now that I’m discovering more of the Lover my God is. Would I grow as a saint, as a man of God (that we’re all called to be and become) if I swallowed an easy doctrinal position and dispensed it like pap to a world starving for real nourishment. Much better to admit that this mystery remains to be unraveled by precious revelation of the Spirit of God, from and out of the Word of God, always measured against the Word of God, seared into me so as to be ready for action and service.
God is like the blacksmith. He lovingly fashions us at great cost to himself. But God Himself stooped down to meet us, and hung on a cross, enduring the ultimate sacrifice that we might know Him. And even now, the Holy Spirit bears a sacrifice almost as great, allowing Himself to indwell and empower sinful man. Then, having been shod with the gospel of peace, we co-labor as sons and daughters with the King and creator of the universe to proclaim His salvation to the world.