Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Good theology...hurt people

Piper on Job, Part 1

So, you know now that we attended Desiring God's Regional Conference on Job. I'm going to spend the next several posts thinking through some of the content most meaningful to me. I'll start with a quote or thought and move from there.

On Job's friends..."They got it so right theologically...mostly...and so wrong practically."

"True theology can hurt people very badly."

"True theological statements can cause harm and become false in their application and destructive in the mouths of fools."

It's always been so easy for me to dismiss those three friends in Job. All they did was pick a theme (What have you done wrong, Job?) and beat it into the ground. Now I see that I am them. Piper pointed out that they mostly got it right. You can find Scripture after Scripture that says exactly what they say. Righteous people are blessed...wicked are punished. Rahab at Jericho. Daniel. David over Saul. (And to cut them some slack, they didn't have ANY of the Scriptures. Imagine how much we'd get wrong without this Word that we take for granted so easily.)

It is not enough to know truth. We must also pray for the wisdom to use it rightly. Proverbs 25:11 says A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. It's not the word. It's when and how it's spoken.

And you'd think I'd get this because I can remember the sermons that led to us leaving the church. We had moved when I was going into the sixth grade to a small west Texas town where we weren't known. We had begun attending a small church outside of town. There were probably 10 kids in the entire youth program. Then change again...after years of strife and unfaithfulness, Dad was leaving and they were getting divorced. As I was in Jr. High, this wasn't a shock to me nor even unwelcome. Back then there were very few divorces and you could only get one for a few reasons. When it happened, it was shocking. I can name only a few friends whose parents were divorced and can distinctly remember that the reaction was like a death in the family. We were all shocked, saddened...didn't know what to say to them. Then it was our turn. It caused a huge turmoil in our family. We tried to keep living life...school, activities, church, youth stuff.

Then came that Sunday...small Texas towns post updates on the town each week. Who got a speeding ticket in town...who got arrested last night...who applied for a marriage license...who reported stolen property...and who was getting divorced. I think I remember Mom telling us that it came out, that now everyone knew. When we walked across the parking lot, I just remember feeling uncomfortable, butterflies in my stomach. I didn't know what it meant that everyone knew. At first it didn't seem any different. I went to class then on to service. Just like always. Until the sermon started. You guessed it...divorce...the damage it does...the sin that it is...repent, repent, repent.

Then came the visit from some of the men in the church. Men who had never been in our home before. Men who had no idea what life was like for us. The message was the same. Repent. I remember the tears of hurt and anger from Mom. I remember the feelings of rage in me. I think I probably went back for a few more times, youth stuff mostly. But that was the last time that I felt like I had a church home. I didn't attend a church again on a regular basis until Cassie was about 18 months old...10 years later. And when I did, I was wary.

I get it now. They weren't trying to harm us. They had the truth...divorce is wrong...it is not what God intended for what He joined together. I stand with them in that theology...but they, like Job's friends, had the right thoughts with the wrong heart. And I know I've followed after them more than once.

God told us to weep with those who weep...to comfort those who are afflicted with the very comfort you yourself have received. When Jesus saw people who were suffering, He didn't just preach a sermon. He had compassion and stayed until it was late to relieve it. And when He came to friends who were grieving, He only asked them to remember who He was while He wept with them because He was moved by their tears.

There is a time for truth and we must be ready with it. God can stand up to the hard questions we have. He is more than sufficient for our every fear and our every challenge. And we must be also. There are large truths that will steady us in the storms of life and have soothed my heart as I've come through suffering. But the delivery of those truths matters as much as the truths themselves. For in speaking for God with the truth of God, we must take care to represent Him not only in word, but in countenance...not only in deed, but in emotion. Then people near us can taste and see that He is good...and ready to meet them as a refuge in their pain.


Katharine said...

Oh Amen Sister! What a line it is, wanting to speak truth, wanting to weep and rejoice as you said! Oh to have God's heart and thoughts for our friends and family who are in need. I will be reading this post again. Love you

PS Henry is all croupy, please pray for him to our great God who cares for us.

Kim said...

I will pray, Katharine! I'm so sorry for him. I hear that raspy, yucky cough in my head right now...hate that for him.

I'm thankful for you...for all the times you've met my weakened heart with compassion and love...and then truth. You are such a blessing to me.

Sarah said...

I FOUND YOU! Thanks to facebook and Cassie. :) I miss you and am so glad to read what you have to say; it always impacts me...and I need that!

Kim said...

I'm so glad! I love it when Cassie yells at me to come look at new pics of the boys.

Let me know how God is showing Himself to you. Love you! Kisses to Everett and Tate...

eileen mom nana said...

You have to know I was crying! There are so many things that I do not want to remember ~ besides the men who I didn't really know coming to the house; the preacher calling me in & telling me 'you will never be happy again'...I had never been exposed to that before & wished my Daddy were there..
I do know that divorce is not the "real" answer.. many regrets; many sorrows; BUT here I am today; loving my life & My God so...