A Relationship of Trust (Job 13:15)

Though He slay me,
I will hope in Him.
Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.

Job 13:15

There are two statements made here by Job. The first is excellent. The second not so much.

Job’s assertion that he will hope in God even if God slays him is a phenomenal declaration of faith. I do not know how many believers today can say the same thing and be completely honest. Job is in a place where death would be welcome. He lost everything he had — all family (except his lovely wife) and wealth — and his health has declined to the point where he is scraping boils with fragments of pottery that are all that’s left of his vast wealth. When something like this happened in American history, people threw themselves from windows. Wednesday, I think, was the anniversary of the 1929 stock market crash. Job, rather than end it all, perseveres. He’s not at 100%, but no one would be. Can I make this statement and be speaking truth? I do not think so. But I should. I should be able to say that circumstance is irrelevant to whether or not I trust God. This is something that needs to be addressed in me.

Job’s second statement is not so good. He says that he will argue his ways before God. Job had lived a righteous life, so much so that God was bragging about what a righteous dude Job was. If anyone had grounds to argue his ways, it was probably Job. In a preceding chapter, Job said that no one can dispute with God (Job 9:3). When he said that, he was correct. Who are we to think that we will stand before the Almighty and shake our fist or rage against what we perceive to be injustice? We will do no such thing. Faced with Almighty God, we will be unable to stand at all. As for shaking our fist or leveling charges against Him, I doubt it. There will be some who will plead; who will ask about the great things that they did in God’s name. Knowledge of Him is not enough. Relationship with Him is what is needful.

I need to learn to trust. My relationship with God will be hobbled until I do. Until I can say with Job that I will trust God even if He takes my life, I am not where I need to be.

Misconceptions 2 – Bildad’s Error (Job 8:5-6)

If you would seek God
And implore the compassion of the Almighty,
If you are pure and upright,
Surely now He would rouse Himself for you
And restore your righteous estate.

Job 8:5-6

Job’s “friend” Eliphaz gave a good bit of a lesson on misconceptions, but Bildad shows up and adds another layer to the misconception lesson. And Bildad’s misconception is fairly common. His misconception about God? That God does only “good” things for the righteous. It bears note that Bildad is both right and wrong in what he is saying, but the most convincing lies are mostly truth.

Before I go too far into this, a little definition of terms may be necessary. See, we — people — are wont to call “good” that which is pleasant, pleasurable, enjoyable, and immediately beneficial. We understand “good” in a different sense, though, when we speak of things like healthy foods and habits and say that they are “good for you.” The difference is significant. What we generally call “good” is not, strictly speaking, good, but rather pleasant. It is pleasant to gorge myself on chocolate. It is pleasant to sit around on the couch and do nothing. It is pleasant to avoid difficulties in life. Pleasant, but not good. It is good to enjoy chocolate in moderation along with a variety of other foods that are more healthful. It is good to relax on the couch after working on something and before moving on to the next thing that needs doing. It is good to endure the difficulties in life and come through them stronger. All of these are good, but not always pleasant. So I will be considering the term good in the latter sense. Something good is something that is of ultimate benefit to me and will, in the final estimation, result in something pleasurable and pleasant.

Bildad is right in that God promises that everything He does in the life of the righteous — those who love Him and are called according to His purpose — is for good (Romans 8:28). This good is similar to that of working out. A balanced workout regimen keeps a person fit and ready to do anything their body is capable of doing (and a fair few things it would not otherwise be capable of doing). Likewise, the good that God is working everything out for in the lives of the righteous is for a future application. Sure, our good may sometimes, perhaps even often, have pleasant results in the here and now. Exercise can have short term benefits in addition to its long term ones. The point is not that I can run down the street right now, but that I can run a marathon when I’m fit (this is for illustration, I don’t run unless there’s something dangerous behind me).

Bildad is horribly, terribly wrong when he thinks that only pleasant and pleasurable things will befall righteous individuals. Jesus told His disciples that God causes the sun to rise on the good and the evil and for rain to fall on the righteous as well as the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). In the pre-plumbing (aqueducts notwithstanding) agrarian society of the time, sun and rain were the two greatest blessings a person could hope for and do absolutely nothing about. The message: Good things happen to everyone. Jesus also made a (rather unpopular) promise, in John 16:33, that His disciples will have tribulation in this world. God never once promises smooth sailing to those who follow Him. Jesus challenges anyone who wants to follow to pick up their cross (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23) and follow Him. Translation: Carry the instrument of your death on your back and get in line behind Jesus.

Bildad’s error is common today. So common that believers fall into the trap of thinking that life will be hunky-dory after deciding to follow Jesus. In terms of my right standing with God, life will absolutely be hunky-dory. With regard to just about everything else — nope. I catch myself falling into this error. I fell into it twice this week alone. I encountered rough seas and wondered what I had done wrong. For all I know, I might have done something wonderfully right. There’s no knowing. There are believers who think that right standing with God means they will never be sick and never get near poverty and so on. That is all patently ridiculous. Jesus Himself was poor on Earth. Paul’s eyesight was failing and Timothy had chronic stomach issues. Paul wrote that he, a believer, wanted to be united in the fellowship of Jesus’ sufferings (Philippians 3:10). My conclusion: life is going to be difficult for everyone, but especially so for those who approach nearest to Christ.

What is Man? (Job 7:17-18)

What is man that You magnify him,
And that You are concerned about him,
That You examine him every morning
And try him every moment?

Job 7:17-18

The psalmist would ask the same question: What is man that You are mindful of him? This is the all-important question. It doesn’t seem like it on the surface. On the surface, it is Job lamenting how difficult his life is and wondering why God pays any attention to mankind at all. I need to be very careful how I answer this question in my heart and mind, because the answer to this question changes everything.

Genesis 1:27 says God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. The reason for God’s intense interest in mankind is that we are made in His image. An artist making a statue will often get very close to that statue in order to winkle out every flaw and smooth every rough spot away so that the statue is perfect; a likeness true to its original. Consider that individual people are like that statue. We are made in the image of God; in His likeness. It then follows quite naturally that He would be deeply concerned with whether or not any given individual is a faithful representation of the original.

God is deeply and abidingly concerned about mankind for the very reason that He created mankind in His image. Male and female are both expressions of Who and what God is. I do not fully understand that and will not attempt to explain it, but I know it to be true as Genesis 1:27 declares it to be so. My answer to the question “What is man?” changes things. It changes whether or not ethics and morality are rational and necessary parts of my life. It changes my purpose; my raison d’être. It quite literally changes everything.

Job asks the question in despair, wondering why God bothers. However, the question must be kept before me in all seriousness. The answer changes everything.

Made for This (Job 5:6-7)

For affliction does not come from the dust,
Nor does trouble sprout from the ground,
For man is born for trouble,
As sparks fly upward.

Job 5:6-7

We’re still dealing with Eliphaz in these verses and he is still “comforting” Job. What stuck in my craw about this guy’s words is that God will, at the end of the book, say that this guy and the two other friends did not speak rightly about God. Eliphaz sometimes manages to hit on something true — see his statements in this same chapter about God’s reproof and how God does great and unsearchable things — but in the midst of his right is a fair bit of wrong. Take this pair of verses for example.

The word used for trouble in verse six could also mean toil or labor. In either of those contexts, the statement is somewhat true. Mankind was created to work. Rewind (chronologically) to Genesis and the creation of the world. God creates this gorgeous garden and places mankind in the garden to cultivate it and keep it (Genesis 2:15), thus affirming that mankind is created to work. Was this work toil or labor? I don’t know. The curse leveled at Adam — Cursed is the ground because of you; / In toil you will eat of it / All the days of your life. (Genesis 3:17) — seems to indicate that the work was not particularly laborious before the curse. So, while mankind was created to work, the work was not meant to be burdensome or laborious. I am blessed with a job that I usually enjoy. There are days I do not enjoy and people who are challenging to get on with, but the work as a whole is pleasant to me. This means that my work seldom feels laborious. That, I think, is what mankind was created for: work that is challenging enough to be engaging and difficult enough to tire us in the best possible way. But that, I must emphasize, is my opinion.

In a similar fashion, Eliphaz misses the mark when he says that affliction does not come from the dust and trouble does not come from the ground. Go back to the curse Adam had handed down to him and you see that it was the ground that was cursed and that Adam’s labor became much more laborious. In light of that, the ground does, in fact, produce trouble (same word used for trouble here as in the following verse).

The last and most egregious error (in my opinion) is that Eliphaz implies that mankind is made, is created to suffer. He says that man is born for trouble, [a]s sparks fly upward. Really? We are born for trouble? Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God’s workmanship (Greek poiema: masterpiece; root word of our English “poem”) and that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand for us to walk in. Sure, mankind was created to work in the sense that God did not expect us to be a bunch of freeloaders loafing around the Garden of Eden expecting everything would just drop into our laps. In the perfect place populated by perfect people, work is present. Work is not evil. In fact, God has good works prepared ahead of time for us to do. I don’t know what good works He planned out for me, but I know He has them all prepped and ready for me to walk in and do my part. Will I have trouble in this world? Absolutely. Jesus promised me that I would. He added that I should be of good cheer, because He had overcome the world. So, I will have trouble, but Jesus has it handled.

The world is full of people who want to tell me that God created me for trials and tribulations and trouble of various kinds. They’re full of fluff and nonsense. There are folks who want to tell me that I am the product of a sequence of cosmic accidents that all managed to result in this thinking, feeling, generative being who looks up in wonder. They are also full of fluff and nonsense. I am made by a loving God that I might love Him and be loved by Him. I am here for good works and the greatest of all good works is to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. The greatest of all good works is love. Love. I was made for this. We are made for this.

Just and Pure (Job 4:17)

“Can mankind be just before God?
Can a man be pure before his Maker?”

Job 4:17

Still in the context of Job’s “friend” Eliphaz trying to be comforting comes this verse. Eliphaz says he heard a voice at night; that he heard a spirit speak to him. Now, not every spirit is from God and this one is debatable, but the questions asked are valid. The answer to both questions is both “Yes” and “No.”

The bad news: No one is just or pure before God on their own merits. Mankind, taken as a whole, is a disagreeable bunch of reprobates. Collectively, we engage in all manner of sinful behavior, approve the sinful behavior of others, and come up with creative new ways to commit the same old sins. There are those who try not to or who eschew certain sinful practices, but humanity as a whole is a bunch of greedy, grasping, clutching, covetous sinners. We want what we want when we want it and woe betide any who try to stop us from getting it. This is exactly the kind of attitude shown at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. We are going to do what we want to do and not even God can stop us. Of course He did. And of course humanity was wrong. But we tried it anyway.

That’s mankind as a whole. There is not one single individual who is pure before God. the word used for pure could also mean without disease, ceremonially clean, morally clean. No one is without disease and to be ceremonially clean is a rough job, though some might manage it for a time. But to be morally clean is impossible. None of us is morally clean — not even by our own standards. It was written that all men alike stand condemned not by alien codes of conduct, but by our own. And that is true. I don’t need God’s Law to condemn me when my own moral compass has been ignored and violated often enough to render me a moral mudhole.

All that is the Bad News. The Good News (a.k.a. The Gospel) is that the answer to both questions is “Yes: through Christ.” Can mankind be just before God? Sure. A segment of mankind is exactly that through the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross. He died in our place. Done. Finished. He said almost exactly that while on the cross. His word(s), recorded in John 19:30, were “It is finished (τετέλεσται — tetelestai).” In Revelation 5, the redeemed around the throne sing of how Jesus redeemed people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. There is no partiality and anyone who wants to be saved can be saved. Anyone who wants to be just and pure before God totally can be.

That is, to me, fantastic news this Monday morning. See, my daughter gave my wife and me a rough weekend. Since my daughter is still a wee little lass — not even using well-formed words, let alone sentences — it is difficult to know how to address her moods and will. Sometimes, I’m not sure I’m getting this “daddy” thing quite right. Just as I am completely sure that I’m not getting this “Christian thing” quite right. In thousands of years of human history, the “daddy thing” has been done millions upon millions of ways and resulted in billions and billions of individuals. In thousands of years of people throwing themselves on the mercy and grace of God, there has been only one result: righteousness; being just and pure before God. Genesis says that Abram believed God and it was counted to him (Abram) as righteousness. The book of Job will include Job’s declaration that his redeemer lives. So many people in The Bible place their faith in Christ; throw themselves on God’s mercy. And His mercy never fails. Habakkuk 2:4 includes the statement that “the righteous will live by his faith.” The only way that mankind as a whole or man as an individual can be just and pure before God is through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. That is it.

Today and every day, I throw myself on the mercy of God; at the foot of the cross. I know that I will not get this Christian thing right. I also know that my righteousness does not depend on me, but on Christ. And His righteousness is perfect. Through Christ, I am just and pure before God.

How Much of The Law Applies?

To start off, there are a couple of things that need to be put firmly to the side. First, this post is not written because I decided that I had the single, definitive answer to the title question. I believe that God has given me better understanding than I had two weeks ago — just before my brother-in-law and I discussed this topic as part of a larger conversation — but not that He has shown me everything. This post will be dealing with the question as it was dealt with by the church in the NT (New Testament), particularly in the book of Acts. Second, the only thing hated in this post is sin. That’s it. No people are hated as this post is written. If anything, there is remorse for the things I have been guilty of.

How this came about is that my brother-in-law and I were discussing the glut of posts we had seen on social media about how “X is wrong.” or “I used to believe C, but I know so much better now.” Most of these posts had to do with The Law, we’re talking OT (Old Testament) here, and my brother-in-law and I were lamenting the attitude that either excuses sin that is obviously sinful or condemns something that is equally-obviously a matter of opinion. One person excuses sexual sin while another condemns men wearing hats in church. As we talked, it occurred to me that the first church had the same problem. The first group of believers — Jesus’ disciples and the apostles — were, by and large, Jewish. These folks did their level best to obey The Law in its entirety, as is fitting for a Jewish person. However, Peter and Paul and Barnabas and Mark and Silas and Timothy and a bunch of others were going around preaching to Gentiles (non-Jews) and the Gentiles were putting their faith in Christ and being saved. All the same signs accompanied the salvation of the Gentiles as accompanied the salvation of the Jewish believers, so it was obvious that God had placed His seal of approval on these believers. But there were Pharisees who had converted and these folks thought that to be a believer meant to obey The Law (Acts 15:5). But Peter had some things to say and Paul and company talked about the signs that had taken place and James suggested that they give some basic instructions — the bare necessities. So, the leadership in Jerusalem wrote as follows:

“The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with [their] words, unsettling your souls, it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word [of mouth]. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” (Acts 15:23-29)

That letter was the first church’s response to the question, “How much of The Law applies to Gentiles?” Their answer: Not a whole lot.

It is at this point that I think a major distinction needs to be drawn. There are two separate things that are spoken of and some folks use the term “The Law” to apply to both. There is the Ten Commandments or the Decalogue or “The Big Ten” as some folks have called them (not to be confused with the erstwhile NCAA football conference). This set of Ten Commands can be found in Exodus 20. No mention is made of a special covenant or a unique people when God hands these down. These are The Rules. Want to know what perfection looks like? There you go. The Ten Commandments are not the same as The Law. The Law is given specifically to the Jews as a covenant and to make them a special people to God. These rules apply to Jews and proselytes. But these same rules are the ones that people want to trot out as examples of Christians not obeying God. In fairness, I can’t blame people — Christians don’t seem to have this straight either. Now, it needs to be noted that the Ten Commandments apply universally. So, God’s “No murdering.” applies to everyone. The command not to commit adultery applies to everyone. It is assumed that the believer will be seeking to obey the Ten Commandments regardless of whether or not a person is Jewish. With that addressed, let’s have a look at the things mentioned: (1) no eating things sacrificed to idols, (2) no consuming blood, (3) no eating strangled meat, (4) no fornication.

No eating things sacrificed to idols. Lots of folks might think this rule outdated, but I think there’s application. You see, anything that takes up more of my time and attention than God is an idol. If I spend my every waking moment thinking about my job, then my job has become an idol. The modern world is still chock full of idols and we should be very careful not to consume things sacrificed to them. We may have a “business dinner” that sacrifices time with our family or at church or in service to God. I think there are times when it’s acceptable and times when we should not be eating that meal and only God and the individual know which time is which. I would suggest that the meal that is born of a habit of neglecting the things of God is probably an idol’s meal while the one that is an exception; maybe even a reward or a send-off for a co-worker going to new places is probably fine. Again, this is between God and the individual and I’m not in any position to judge what’s what.

The next two can probably safely be taken together as they both deal with eating. While the word used for “blood” can also mean “bloodshed.” Since the word is nestled between two other things concerned with eating, it is probably safe to conclude that the consuming of blood is what’s being prohibited. This would have been a huge concern in the ancient world. Bloodborne pathogens still present concerns today and consuming blood is a surefire way to contract all sorts of illnesses if the blood is contaminated. As for the strangled meat … our methods of slaughtering livestock do not, as far as I know, include strangulation. Everything I’ve ever encountered involves slaughtering the animal in a way that allows the blood to drain. I’m not sure what’s behind the instruction, but I’m reasonably sure that it does not bode well for those who ignore it.

Lastly, the no fornication rule. Arguably the least comfortable rule for the modern world. We can make excuses about the idol thing and even say that I’ve got the whole thing wrong. Most of us don’t eat blood anyway and strangled meat might be difficult to find. The word used in Greek is porneias (πορνείας) whose English descendants should be pretty obvious. The word applied to any and all sexual intercourse that was not between a husband and wife. All of it. This means that the one word used then includes, but is not limited to, all of the following modern English words and phrases: fornication, homosexuality, bisexuality, beastiality, polyamory, adultery, affairs, cybersex, sexting, and a host of others that I’m not even sure I know. I’m not sure if polygamy falls in the group, but any man foolish enough to marry more than one woman or share one wife with other men deserves all the grief he gets and any woman foolish enough to marry more than one man or share a husband with other women deserves all the grief she gets. I don’t see any scenario wherein polygamy works out well for those involved. Maybe I’m just shortsighted, but I’ll stay that way if I am. Meanwhile, back to the apostles and company prohibiting all forms of sex not between a husband and wife. What’s with that? I mean, we can accept the possible health concerns of the blood and strangulation deal and God has a whole commandment dedicated to not worshiping idols, so that jives. But this whole no sex at all unless it’s with our spouse? I thought God’s commandment was no adultery. And it is. I looked it up and even looked up the word in the concordance. It is adultery that is proscribed. However, Jesus came on the scene and shook things up. He said that if a dude looked at a gal and lusted for her, then he had committed adultery (Matthew 5:28). Jesus raised the bar on that commandment. He raised the bar on murder, too, but that wasn’t something that the apostles worried about. I guess they figured that even Gentiles knew not to murder people (and they did know).

See, I think that the apostles and the leadership felt it necessary to point out the fornication thing because many of the Gentile cultures were perfectly fine with certain types of sex that were not within marriage. Greeks were known to have homosexual relationships and remain married. Aristotle went so far as to say that the best (most perfect; most equal) love a man could know was with another man. Some cultures were okay with step-family getting together (something like this happened in the church at Corinth). Some of the Greek and Roman festivals involved worshiping the gods (little “g”) through sex with temple prostitutes: male or female. Parts of the ancient world actually regarded prostitution as a legitimate way for a woman to make a living and saw nothing wrong with a guy having a tumble here and there. And Greek mythology is replete with stories of people and animals (sometimes gods in disguise) having sexual relations. Beastiality might have been shrug-worthy to the Greeks. The Law forbade all of that and more besides, so the Jewish audience did not need to be told. But the Gentiles had a whole other background that they were coming from. They needed the info.

Now let’s bring this all back together. The first church, when faced with the question of how much of The Law applied considered the question and (presumably, though it’s not recorded) prayed about it and came to a conclusion that they wrote down and sent off to the Gentile believers. Almost two thousand years later and we Gentile believers are still not sure about this topic. And our uncertainty confuses non-believers. See, if we all agreed that the basics — Jesus’ command that we love God and love our neighbor and the Ten Commandments and the four things written about by the apostles — were absolutely certain and that everything else was window dressing that could be taken or left as the Holy Spirit moves us, then the non-believer would be in a much better position to understand what all is going on with us. Most of us agree on Jesus’ commands (though we disagree as to how, but that’s okay) and on the Ten Commandments (what’s to argue there?), but we lose our footing when it comes to everything else.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are other passages in the NT that explicitly state that the church taught that X was mandatory for all believers everywhere. But I’ve been through the NT a few times and haven’t found any other passages that address this exact issue.

And if you’re wondering “So what?” you probably have company. Here is the “So what?”: I, myself, am a tattooed, bacon-eating, mixed-material-garment-wearing, wrongly-trimmed-bearded, probably-screwing-something-else-up-according-to-The-Law Christian. And I’m okay with that. I’m cool with the folks who want to worship God in slacks and wingtips; I prefer jeans and flip-flops. I’m cool with my brother-in-law’s charismatic fellowship, because they teach The Bible and believe it and try to live it — same as me; they just get a little crazier during praise than I’m likely to. I’m cool with the believers who are so tatted you can’t see an inch of unadorned skin except on their face. Some of their flash is sweet. I’m totally cool with the folks who haven’t a drop of ink on them. Purple hair and piercings all over or conservatively highlighted hair and only earrings: doesn’t matter. Are we worshiping the same God and encouraging one another to stay away from idols — like self and fame and money and possessions and popularity and influence and convenience — and exhorting each other to stay pure in a polluted world? If so, then we’re family. And I love my family even though I know full well that they can be a little rough on people and seem more than a little nutty. Pro Tip: We are ALL nutty to some extent and to some people.

I need to wrap this up. It got way longer than I had planned.

If I’m wrong about how much of The Law applies, I’m sure God will correct me. He is faithful like that. If I’m right, I’m equally sure that He’ll confirm it for me. He’s faithful like that, too. Either way, I encourage anyone reading this to stop taking posts on social media as gospel and instead to dig into the four gospels and The Bible as a whole for themselves. Don’t even take this blog entry at face value. Check my references. Verify that the verses say what I claim they say. And don’t get into an argument on social media. That’s like arguing with a three year old. You’ll only frustrate yourself.

Misconceptions (Job 4:7)

Remember now, who [ever] perished being innocent?
Or where were the upright destroyed?

Job 4:7

The answers to both of these questions are not what the asker expected them to be. The innocent perish all the time. There are stillbirths, children are killed in wars, people who did not commit a crime are convicted and the sentence carried out. The upright are also destroyed all the time. In point of fact, the upright are killed so frequently that a verse in The Bible speaks of how the righteous are, for the sake of God and their testimony, like sheep to be slaughtered. This verse is spoken once and quoted elsewhere. Eliphaz needed better information.

Which brings me to what I caught as I read this. There are an awful lot of misconceptions about God and about how things work. I mean, not too long ago, I fumbled around trying to figure out how much of the OT Law (the Ten Commandments are universal, so that was never in question) applied to the modern believer. I thought one thing and then another. It wasn’t until I was talking with one of my brothers (brother-in-law and fellow believer) that it occurred to me that The Bible had already answered the question. Prior to that epiphany; that moment that I finally heard what God has to say on the matter, I had all sorts of misconceptions about what applied and why. Since there’s a scriptural backing for where I draw the line now and —possibly more importantly —that scriptural backing is, in context, an answer to the very question I was considering, I can safely conclude that I have been disabused of that particular misconception. But I’m sure I have others. Many others. And that is both the danger and the intrigue of pursuing a relationship with infinite God. He. Is. Infinite. I’m not. As I seek to know Him and grow close to Him, new things will become apparent. Before marrying my wife, I did not really understand how deeply and abidingly apathetic she is about whether or not the toothpaste tube is squeezed from the bottom or not. And that is just one of a myriad of things I learned when our relationship went from “dating” to “married.” In between, there was this phase known as “engaged” which revealed still other things about my wife and who she is to me (I’m sure these phases have done the same for her). And that’s kind of the point. In any relationship, misconceptions about the other are inevitable. We know enough to love that one and fill in the blanks with things that make us love them more. The reality may not jive.

How I deal with being disabused of my misconceptions is the application to this. Will I become disillusioned; shocked that the God I love is different than I thought Him to be? Or will I accept that God is Who God is and incorporate the new piece into the whole of the God I know and love? At the end of the book of Job, Eliphaz will get a verbal smackdown from God for not speaking rightly about God as Job does. Job will say a fair few foolish things before the book is done, but God says that Job speaks rightly about God. Job knows God and incorporates the new information into the whole. Just as a loving husband does with his wife. Just as a loving parent does with a child. Just as a loving child — a more apt comparison — does with their parents. I’ve learned things about my parents that I label TMI (too much information). But those things are part and parcel of my parents. I do not love them any the less for being more or other than what I thought as a child. I simply add that new (to me, they’ve known it for years) information. I need to be the same with God. When one of my misconceptions is destroyed, I need to thank God for helping me know Him better and add that new (to me) piece to the puzzle that is God.

One last note before I close up, this morning. C.S. Lewis wrote, in The Four Loves, that a person’s friends bring out new facets of that person. So, my wife brings out certain facets of me. My daughter brings out others. My sister, still others. So it goes until we realize that getting together all of these people who know me in different capacities and relationships will show things about me that may seem contradictory or may simply furnish those who know me with a more complete picture. In either event, all of those facets are me. Getting together with other believers and sharing what God has shown us of Himself is a way to begin destroying the misconceptions that plague us all. When I sit and chat with my brothers-in-law about God, we learn about God and about each other by comparing notes about the God we love. Our understanding of Him is richer for the time. A side application is this: I need to spend time comparing notes with other believers. Each of our relationship with God will be richer for it.