Questioning God

We often tell our children that, "Why?" for the sake of understanding is fine.  But it should not become a challenge to our authority and decisions.  I should heed my own advice when approaching God.

Today, I finished a study on the Book of Job.  Many use it to illustrate how God will allow bad things to happen to good people.  The other, no less important lesson, I think is how we respond when we face adversity.  Though Job never wavered in his faith in God's goodness and greatness, his "Whys" crossed the line particularly when he questioned whether there was a purpose for his suffering.  But don't we do the same whenever we ask "Why" with despair, anxiety or even anger?

To have faith in God is not just accepting His existence.  True, saving faith requires us to embrace the goodness of God.  God cannot be wrong and He cannot do wrong.  In our Christian walk, He wants us to question and to grow in our knowledge of Him and His righteousness (Prov 1:2, 7).  But we must approach Him with care and humility -- though we are to strive, we will never reach the goal of understanding.  "Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."  (Job 42:3)

Peace be with you, children of God

For a few weeks now, I've been chewing on the concept of peace in Scripture.  Each time I think I've grasped it, peace seems to take on a different form with a different definition.  On one hand, there's the common, layman's definition, which is the opposite of conflict.  Then there's the peace used as greetings throughout the various Epistles.  Jesus himself is described as the Prince of Peace.  And which of these does Jesus mean in the Beatitudes, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God."?  (Matt 5:9)

You ever sit through a service believing it was intended for you alone?  Today, for our Christmas service, Pastor Mike expounded on the peace promised in Luke 2:14, "peace to men on whom his favor rests."  I was reminded that it was my arrogance that tried to simplify God's peace to a single definition or application.  Peace comes in different forms and can be grasped at different depths.  The ultimate form, that which our Father in heaven wants for us, is to have the peace which can only come by being reconciled with Him.

A few months ago, I met with Pastor Mike to explore the stirring in my soul, a sense of spiritual restlessness.  He asked pointedly, "What do you want to do?"  Without thought, I answered, "I want to be a peacemaker."  Only after have I sought to understand what that truly means.  On the surface, though no less true, a peacemaker seeks to manage or resolve conflicts.  Though important, that's not our ultimate object.  As Jesus explained (Matt 10:34), he did not come to bring that kind of peace, for that's a temporary, worldly peace.  However, the strong emotions that accompany conflict can keep a choke hold on us and prevent us from seeking and worshiping our Lord.  I think it's for this reason that anger suffers the same judgment as murder (Mat 5:22) -- both keep us from the grace of God.  Similarly, we commanded to resolve our conflicts before worship (Matt 5:23-24).  Allowing someone to stay angry with us is to keep them out of God's grace.