How Would God Speak About You? – A Meditation on Job 1

December 10, 2009

If God were to speak about you what would He say? Would He commend or condemn you? What would He say is your chief and defining characteristic? Would it be that: ‘you have faith in Him’ or ‘you love Him’ or you serve Him’? Any of these would be wonderful things to have God say about us. In the Bible we find God commending people. Consider what He says of Job and of Abraham.

The Book of Job opens with Satan appearing before God and God commending Job to him. “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” In Genesis 22 Abraham offers Isaac to the Lord as God had commanded him. In response Christ says to him “for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Here are two of the giants of the Bible. The thing that God commends in both of them is that they fear Him.

A century ago, if you were a serious and devout Christian you would have been called a God-fearing person. But today, we rarely hear people called ‘God-fearing.’ We are as likely as not to refer to believers as ‘born again Christians’ or ‘Spirit-filled.’ Changes in the way people speak frequently signals important shifts in how they think.

There has been a tremendous transition in the way Christians think and speak about their faith. In the 19th century you were considered a sincere Christian if your faith had a significant impact on your character and your conduct. To fear God meant to obey Him carefully and consistently. Without it you were not considered to have been truly converted. The 20th century has become much more experience oriented. Jimi Hendrix expressed it quintessentially for young Boomers when he sang, “Are you experienced? I am.” The emergence of the terms, ‘born again,’ and ‘Spirit-filled’ reflect this change. The terms refer to experiences, but not necessarily to the character produced by them. Many people claim to have ‘born again’ experiences which have no connection to Christianity. The term itself can mean nothing more than getting a fresh start. As used by Jesus it pointed to a radical change in character, but current usage does not require such a transformation. Likewise, to be ‘Spirit-filled’ is seen as gaining power to serve Christ more than power to obey Him.

The loss of the older way of speaking reflects the loss of a commitment in the contemporary church to an evangelistic method that aims at a fundamental transformation of the life. We need churches that are committed to preaching and worship that produces the fear of God in his beloved children.

Would God be able to say of you, as He did of Job, ‘Have you considered my servant, a blameless and upright man, one that fears God’ and of Abraham, ‘Now I know that you fear Me’? Does God know that you fear Him? Do you know what it is to fear Him? Caveat lector!

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