Today's Reading: Job 35-37
Elihu, the youngest of Job's friends sat listening to his elders a long time before he spoke, but once he got started, man, oh man!
From his young mouth comes the argument that God is so great, what we do or not do does not effect God. "Your wickedness effects only a person like yourself, and your righteousness only the sons of men." 35:8
He also states a truism: People cry out to God when they are feeling oppressed, but rarely cry out to God when things are going well: "No one says, 'Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night, who teaches us more to us than to the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?'" 35:11
Elihu is the young theologian, who has the outward appearance of the budding pastor, right out of seminary. He is enthusiastic, patient, articulate and speaks a lot of truth. Perhaps his most endearing quality is that he believes he needs to "defend God." 36:2-4 Elihu is a young man of wonderment who is enthralled by the works of the Lord. 37:1, 2 His lips are full of praise and amazement. Elihu could have penned Psalm 8.
Elihu fulfills the meaning of his name: "God is my God."
I must admit I like Elihu. There are only a few things with which I disagree. He has a Tillichian view of God as he speaks of God's "far-off-ness." God is unreachable, unattainable, uninterested and uneffected by what is going on in individual lives, according to Elihu. 37:23
And God certainly does not need to be defended...I think God can stand up for God's self!
This young innocent has not been spattered with the mud of suffering. Or perhaps Elihu was raised in a religious culture where questions and doubts were kept hidden in one's heart, never to be seen by the light of day. His theology is summed up in the phrase: God is God, Humans are humans, and ne'er the twain shall meet.
In tomorrow's chapter, God will finally speak. But until then, here is what I observe about Job and his friends and this book of Wisdom. As each speaks, some of what is said rings true. Each discourse is laced with Truth. And yet, each one's discourse is missing something. Their words sound good but do not necessarily land upon my ears as shalom.
So here is the lesson for me. M., listen deeply to what people are saying. Listen for truth. Pay attention to your gut. Pay attention to the Holy Spirit. Each Word coming to you deserves, begs and must be given discernment. Don't just gobble up what sounds nice and easy; don't just accept what supports your cause. Truly listen for the Holy Spirit's confirmation. Wait.
And perhaps Truth is found laced through the entire community of friends, the entire Church. Each denominational voice has a piece of Truth to share. The trouble is when one believes it holds all the Truth and never analyzes or checks it's own beliefs and traditions against the whole of Scripture.
Elihu, I like you. I think you'll make a fine pastor one day. You need a few more years of honest experience under your belt, but you're off to a good start. May the Lord correct, shape and hone your theology.