Addiction, Blessings, and the Book of Job

One of the best definitions of addiction I have come across is someone who treats objects like people and people like objects. People become something to be used rather than someone to have a relationship with. Objects transform from something to be used to someone to have a relationship with. Funny thing is the way we have viewed blessings from God have undergone this same transformation. As I mentioned in a previous post about Christians misperceptions of what blessing is all about, blessings have been distorted by portions of the Christian community from a someone to a something. In scripture, a life that is blessed is a life that is centered on a relationship with a someone (God). Somehow we have strayed into believing blessings are about objects to be received rather than a relationship to be lived. In other words when we think about our blessings we often list objects rather than a relationship.

One place this understanding helps in interpreting scripture is in the book of Job. In Job the accuser, Satan, comes before God and God points Job out to him as a man who is centered on God (Job 1:8). Satan’s response is that Job only serves God because of all the things he has received from God (protection, possessions, etc). Let’s listen in,

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.  “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”- Job 1:9-11

Satan’s accusation is that Job serves God because of what he has received from God in material goods. Satan is saying that if God withdraws the possession that Job will withdraw from the relationship. The only way to find out if this is true is to do just that and see if Job’s relationship with God is based on Job’s possessions or on God’s possession of Job himself in relationship. If you have a distorted view of blessings being about stuff then it is hard to capture the relational aspect of the claims Satan is issuing about Job’s character and motivation for his relationship with God. Job is so committed to God that he is able to say things like “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” in 1:21 and “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;” in 13:15. Job understood that it was a blessing to be in relationship with the Almighty whether or not he was to receive any material benefit from it whatsoever.

How are we doing in this area? Have we so misidentified what blessings really are that we have fooled ourselves into thinking our country is the most blessed in the world because we are so materially prosperous? Does our prayer life reflect more praise for who God is and thankfullness for our relationship with him than it does requests for objects? Have we become so addicted to objects that we no longer understand the blessing of being in relationship with God even if we have to go lacking with material possessions? I think these are valid questions and I think it is important we address this in our churches so that we can face the coming weeks, months, and years of potential economic difficulty while remaining grounded in our relationship with God. What is even more important is that when things turn around that we don’t forget what is still most important.

0 Responses to Addiction, Blessings, and the Book of Job

  1. weswoodell says:

    Great thoughts, Matt. I think the main point in the book of Job is that we should love God for God (i.e. that relationship you’re talking about) rather than for the stuff God gives us.

    Joel Osteen would disagree, and his hair gel would too.

  2. Dave Brumley says:

    Great words Matt. I was praying last night and it dawned on me while in prayer just how covetous I truly was. What reason have we to despair over earthly lossses when we should be storing our treasures in heaven? How easily do we become unfaithful stewards?

  3. You might be interested in this online commentary “Putting God on Trial: The Biblical Book of Job” (http://www.bookofjob.org) as supplementary or background material for your study of the Book of Job. It is not a sin to question God, to demand answers from God. There is a time and a place for such things. It is written by a Canadian criminal defense lawyer, now a Crown prosecutor, and it explores the legal and moral dynamics of the Book of Job with particular emphasis on the distinction between causal responsibility and moral blameworthiness embedded in Job’s Oath of Innocence. It is highly praised by Job scholars (Clines, Janzen, Habel) and the Review of Biblical Literature, all of whose reviews are on the website. The author is an evangelical Christian, denominationally Anglican. He is also the Canadian Director for the Mortimer J. Adler Centre for the Study of the Great Ideas, a Chicago-based think tank.

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