Reading: Job 1:1-22
This is one of those stories where, if you’re a scriptural literalist, you’ve got a bit of work to do. At a scan, it appears that God is capriciously wagering on the loyalty of a devoted follower. At first God brags on Job; Satan counters with, “Who wouldn’t be devoted living his cushy life?” And then God agrees to let Satan wreck Job’s existence, just for grins.
“Wut?” said 5th grade me. I remember this being one of the first instances where I realized there was more going on behind the scenes in scripture than my handsomely bound English translation was letting on. A year or two later I would realize that one Bible in the youth room indicated that Job was a historical dude whose loyalty God decided to test—and another Bible in the youth room that suggested Job was the subject of a kind of morality play, written by an ancient culture wrestling with how bad things could possibly happen to good people.
It’s a subject we’ve gotten comfortable either working around or ignoring for the most part, but at the time, “God’s favor” was pretty exclusively tied to your behavior, at least in the common grasp of things. Do good, God rewards you. Do bad, God punishes you. Simple.
But the twist is interesting; Job is presented primarily as a man of position—he’s relatively rich. We get some sense that he’s good, too, but… rich. He’s well enough off that he’s got time to make just-in-case sacrifices for his kids. So what gets attacked? His privilege. Read it again—as his children die, it sounds like loss in a spreadsheet, not loss of life. His position is being attacked.
Which brings up an interesting point, without going any further in the story. How much of your privilege could you lose and still keep faith? How much of your certainty that God is worthy of praise is tied to your own wellbeing? If you suffer, is Jesus still Lord?
What motivates your belief in God? What tries to sway it?
Where in ministry have you seen faith challenged by adversity in life?
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