A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Friday, October 9, 2015

If Only Job Had a Stephen Minister!

This Sunday, our church will begin a three-part sermon series on the Book of Job. As I've been preparing for this sermon series, I was reminded of what a difficult read this book is!

Your heart just goes out to this poor guy. Yes, he was wealthy and had the good life, but it all vanished in a moment when one terrible thing happened after another. Very early into the story of Job, we find him lonely, depressed, and ill.

If that wasn't bad enough, check out Job's so-called friends! They are quick to point out to him that his sufferings are most likely the result of some unconfessed sin or sins that he has committed. Their theology is very simple. If bad things happen to you, you must have done something wrong. Job's friends represent the prevailing theology of the time period when the Book of Job was written. 

Disobey God and Sin = Bad Things Will Happen to You
Obey God and Don't Sin = Good Things Will Happen to You

Before we try to dismiss this thinking as too simplistic, we find this theology in scripture! The Book of Deuteronomy uses this theology a lot because it was emphasizing the importance of being holy and upright. Think of what we share with our children when we want them to study in school. "Do your homework and you'll do well on your test!"

The problem is that this doesn't always hold true! Sometimes bad things happen to good people even when they did everything they were supposed to do! This is the case with Job and it's why this book of the Bible was written. It was written to remind the people of Israel that sometimes life stinks and it has nothing to do with anything bad you may have done. The Book of Job is the other side of the theological coin regarding why do bad things happen to people. Sometimes it's because of something we have done, but sometimes it's just because that's the way life can be.

Job's friends have no clue that there is another side of this theological coin, so they stick with what they know by blaming Job for his sins which we as the readers of the story know that he hasn't committed. If only Job had a good friend from whom he could have received some support!

This is why I wish Job had a Stephen Minister. A Stephen minister is someone who has received extensive training in the art of listening and offering peer support for someone who is going through a difficult time in their life. Our church is blessed to have several Stephen Ministers. 

As we begin this series on Job, we are invited to enter into the theological struggle with him as to why bad things happen to people from time to time. It's not an easy question that has simple answers. 

Poor Job! Here, he had lost everything and he also had to put up with these unsympathetic friends.

If only Job had a Stephen Minister! 

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