The Story of Job

Dear friends and members of Grace Baptist Church of Blue Bell,

I want to begin this e-pondering by expressing my thanks for the opportunity to take a personal day last Sunday so my family could go camping with our cub scout pack.  The boys had a wonderful time camping with their classmates.  During the day on Saturday, they thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to try different outdoor activities / skills such as fishing, slingshot, bouldering, archery, BB guns, handicraft, and STEM activities.  I’m also feeling grateful that the ministry of Grace Baptist continued, as it should, without my presence.  This past week I had an email conversation with a guest from this past Sunday.  He shared the following with me, “I was graced with a message from your guest preacher and welcomed lovingly by your members.  It was truly a pleasure to worship with your church.”

This Sunday we’re beginning a two-week sermon series based on the book of Job.  If you’ve never read the book of Job before or you have forgotten what the book is about, I invite you to watch this video from The Bible Project.

In the story of Job, the man named Job suffered great losses.  He was a man of great wealth – 10 children, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 donkeys, and many servants.  If he lived today, perhaps we would say that he was Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, a member of the 1%.  But all of that is taken away.  (Job 1:1-22) Eventually Job himself is stricken with painful skin sores.  His wife encourages him to “curse God and die.” (Job 2:1-10) Three of Job’s friends hear about his troubles.  They set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with Job and comfort him.  They sit in silence with Job for seven days and seven nights.  No one said a word because they saw how great his suffering was.

Job finally breaks his silence in chapter three.  Job laments his situation.  After hearing his lament, Job’s three friends respond by sharing the reasons they believe Job was suffering.  But instead of easing his suffering, Job’s friends increase it.  Why?  Well, Job’s friends said what they said to him out of a particular “world view.”  They spoke out of a particular understanding of God and the world.  The difficulty was that their “world view” didn’t correspond to the reality of Job’s experience.  Because they were unwilling or unable to engage their foundational beliefs about God and the world, they were unable to practice what I call the “heretical imperative.”  Therefore, their “words of comfort” brought harm to Job instead of healing.

This Sunday, we’ll explore the story of Job and his three friends.  We will see how their story serves as an invitation to us to practice what I have called the “heretical imperative.”

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