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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Job - A model of Christian leadership and ministry

Could Job ever be a great leader of men? Job is sickly and pale, wretched and foul. He stinks of vomit and rotting flesh. He is foul and disgraceful – a picture of the disgust of mankind. He is the worst of us all. The picture of Job is a portrait of the pathetic.

Job does not draw a crowd. On the contrary, he is repulsive. He repulses the masses. He is a byword and the refuse of the world. And like refuse his best place is to be discarded and buried. Flushed away, far, far away. Away from our sight and far away so that his stench can no longer turn our stomachs and offend all of our sensibilities. Because it is only his friends who can stand to bear the sight of him in order to pull him out of the depth of his sins. And they only come out of duty, or perhaps it was pity – pity of the worst type.

And Job’s friends must plead for Job to put aside the evil of his life, which is another reason why Job is no leader of men. He is too sinful. No one can follow a leader who has offended God and sits in such a pitiful position of condemnation. He is a reject of his own making. Men can follow a man of vice if that man is a success. If that man is brazen and proud and can make the world jump at the snap of his fingers. But Job…what a pathetic picture! He sits in his ashes and stench – in his misery and his torment – and he demands an audience with God. As though he were innocent! But we know he is a sinner tormented by God. And God will break his will and Job will repent. But no one will follow Job now. Not in his shame. Only a pathetic wretch stands against the good advice of his devoted friends and maintains his innocence in the face of all the facts and all the evidence. We pity such a pathetic and laughable wretch. We pity him, but we do not follow him. We condemn and, perhaps, seek his salvation. But we do not follow one who has so obviously missed the answers and has so obviously missed the point. Repent, Job! Be saved!

Would you follow Job? Would you follow, John David, the representative of the masses? Job has no vision to offer you. He has no inspiration. He cannot inspire you to action or create within your heart a burning for something better. He cannot speak the rally cry to desperate troops. This is not Braveheart, and Job has no courage for you. No courage to give your own heart a steadfast spirit. He is a stubborn fool who persists in his innocence. He cries out to God day and night. Night and day he cries out for an audience with God. Job persists in his plea in the face of all of the masses who tell him to turn around. Even in the face of his wife – the only person who remains who can testify that Job really is innocent. Even in the face of the wife who has lost all faith in the Justice of God and can only curse God and hope for death. Because the God who did this was not the God she believed in. It was time to give up. Death was sweet compared to life. Job could not even muster an inspiring word for his own wife. He called her a fool. Surely such a man has nothing to offer us!

Job has nothing to offer us: No direction, no guidance, no wisdom, no answers, no peace, no courage, no inspiration. He cannot even give us a reason for holding on to faith. And what is this faith of his, anyway. It is nothing that we were taught. Sitting in his ashes he scraps his body with the rough edges of broken pottery and when he can stand the pain no more he screams out for an audience with God. He exists as an anomaly – as a paradox of the faith. Job’s faith is nothing to imitate. If anything it is something to try to explain away: Job is an example of a bad man who got what he deserved. God does not punish good men in such ways. God is good and God is just. Job is receiving the justice he deserves. God does not punish the righteous. God punishes the wicked.

And how great was Job’s wickedness! How deep is the well of his unrighteousness! So many had admired him as righteous. He sat amongst the elders. He was rich. When he spoke we listened. He had much to offer us then! But in the dark what evils lurked. What had Job done in the secret places to draw the ire of the righteous God? This we can only speculate upon. And, of course, there are those who have stepped forward to testify to Job’s wickedness. They seem to be more and more these days – those who would step forward to testify to some aspect of unrighteousness in Job. We hear them. We see Job’s suffering. We turn our faces from the cursed one. A wicked man under the curse of God. We turn away. But we do not follow. What does he offer?

What a duplicitous life Job had led! This is, perhaps, the greatest crime of all! We praised him as righteous. But he was up to no good. We followed him then, for he offered us so much. He spoke words that gave us insight into how to resolve disputes. He spoke of God in a pious way that gave us spiritual insight. So, we sat back and marveled. What a following he had! See how the crowds had followed him! He gave us insight. And we benefited from the riches of his estate, for Job was a man of financial insight. He gave us so much. And we followed. But it had all been an double life. We know that now.

Job has nothing to offer the masses. He has nothing to offer the crowds. He is not a leader of men. He is to be pitied above all. He has no “Cause” that he believes in, save his own innocence. Does he even believe in God’s righteousness anymore? Does he love God? Does he even believe, anymore?

Job is not a man I will follow. He does not inspire me. He repulses me.