Learning from the book of Job

During Lent we’re focusing on the book of Job. As much as Job can be a bit of an overwhelming book, it’s also been good to get into it and ask questions of the text. Not surprisingly, it’s a text that seems to bring up a lot of questions.

The following are just some of the questions we’ve asked:

  • Does God do harm? Closely related, why is there so much suffering? In the book of Job, for example, why the apparently senseless death of Job’s children?
  • What picture of God is presented here in the text?
    • Can we trust this God?
  • What if the accuser/Satan of Job 1-2 is not actually Satan, the devil as we call him? Can it even be him – would God really be willing to give him that much power?
  • How does one understand Job’s wife’s response to what has happened?
  • Does Job have to really have happened exactly the way we have the book today? Does suggesting it is not historically accurate suggest that the Bible itself is not true and accurate? Does it make it harder for me to deal with difficult times if Job didn’t really go through this?
  • Why is the story so short and the poetical texts of the book so long? (3 chapters of narrative versus 39 chapters of poetical responses). Even if Job’s friends (and Elihu) had a lot of time to think about their answers, who really talks in poetry?
  • Job 28 is different: why?
  • How does Elihu fit in? At the end of the book, he is neither condoned or condemned (unlike Job’s 3 friends).
  • What do we make of God’s silence in the text? Even though God does finally appear at the end of the book, there’s a long time of silence before the response is given (and the response doesn’t really address Job’s questions).
  • The response to Job rests heavily on the fact that God understands how the world works and Job doesn’t. As we understand creation better (e.g., there aren’t really storehouses for hail), how does that change how we read the explanations in the text? Does our understanding change God’s might?!?
  • Is Job truly without sin? What then does he repent of in Chapter 42?
  • How is this book relevant to my life (and those around me) now? Especially in the context of the university?

Further thoughts on these questions will hopefully be posted here in the coming weeks. If you’d like to hear another perspective on the book (and read more questions, albeit this time with more answers), I invite you to go to a site we’ve been using as a resource for the study: “Musings on Science and Theology.”

Thursday Night Bible Study

We have been studying Moses and Paul and it has been very insightful. These are two individuals that were just as imperfect as any other human, yet did amazing things for God. We have been trying to learn and understand what made these two men unique, yet still human like us. How did God use them despite their imperfections? That is a critical question we have been asking during this study. We have tried to relate the story of Moses and Paul to our lives. We see our imperfections, our failures, our shortcomings, but then we see God display His power through it. We see how Moses and Paul were frustrated at times, tired, and angry, yet they persisted through God’s strength. We want to model their character and behavior in our continual pursuit of a relationship with God. Being able to take what God has given us, use it in the face of difficulty, is of paramount importance to our every day lives. Relying on God and not on ourselves. This is what Moses and Paul exemplified. Yet, they were still both imperfect which shows us that no matter who we were, or who we are, God can use us. All we have to do is commit and say, “Yes Lord, please use me because you are greater than me or any of my failures.”

 ~Bryan Crutcher

Saturday Nights~Community(Enacted)

Last fall at CEF, we started the “Animate” group. After our weekly dinners on Saturday nights, we spent time discussing the idea of “community”. We began to ask questions about community: What is community? Why is it so elusive? How do we find, foster, and build community? As a group we began to consider these questions, how we envisioned community, and what we sought from community.

As these are questions that I have asked personally, I was excited to enter into this dialogue with others. As the group became more comfortable with each other and delved into these questions more deeply, we began to shift gears. Rather than just talk about community, we wanted to begin to experiment with these ideas. Opening up dialogue about community was an initial step, but we wanted it to be more than just a discussion.

So this spring we have retitled and become the Community (Enacted) Group. Our goal is to take the next step and explore what community in action would look like. This will include exploring our connection with God, growing together as a community with various activities and spending time together, and also extending these ideas to the broader community of Michigan State and East Lansing.

Overall, I see the biggest impact of our time together has been the gradual movement of a collection of people towards becoming a community. Simply by creating an environment conducive to community and being open to exploring this further, we have been able to move towards this goal. Often this has taken place in spontaneous ways through conversations over dinner or hanging out after discussions with coffee or board games. I’m sure the group will continue to evolve and I’m excited to see where it goes! And we are glad to welcome others that might be interested in joining us in this experiment!

~Will Demere

Knitting anyone?  Laura Hubbard in the act of teaching the group one of her hobbies.

Knitting anyone? Laura Hubbard in the act of teaching the group one of her hobbies.

Knitting Lessons 101 with any success?

Knitting Lessons 101 with any success?