Lately, it seems like nothing falls into place. Nothing comes easily to me. I wrestle. I strive. I fight. And . . . nothing. There’s a little voice within that enjoys pointing out that if God were really in control of the whole universe, then it would be easy for him to change my circumstances. It would take him no effort whatsoever to make a tweak here and there and poof! my life would be fixed. That voice takes my good theology—a high view of God’s meticulous rule—and comes to poor conclusions that God is withholding something good from me.
The third major chapter of the Bible turns from history to reflection. Some scholars call Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon the “Poetic Books.” They certainly are poetic in the Hebrew sense of parallel thought or expression of ideas. But the thematic focus of these books is worship and wisdom.
The prophetic indictments against the people of God for their failure to follow his commands to care for the poor and marginalized are always chilling for me to read. This week I was struck by the simple command given through the prophet Amos, “Hate evil, and love good…”
Worldly perfectionism causes us to question whether we’re good enough, to miss opportunities because we’re afraid of failing, and to fixate on the immediate rather than eternal. It distracts us from fulfilling our mission by setting our hearts on achieving worldly gain rather than faithful gospel-centered living. In our sinful and competitive hearts, we all want to be that woman (or man): beloved and envied by all. We want to shine bright enough to attract everyone’s attention, and ensure they’re too dazzled by our splendor to notice our flaws.
There are very few endeavors in this world that can capture a person’s interest for a lifetime. Just like a much anticipated birthday present loses a child’s attention within a few days, (or even minutes), so the undertakings we most anticipate eventually lose their luster. It seems to be the norm in a fallen world. That is, until you come to the study of Scripture.