A blog by Josh Humbert
I’ll be honest…I’ve never liked formulas, fractions, and many things math-related. Can I get an amen somebody???
Surprisingly, I think God feels the same way I do about fractions and formulas………..and that is…we both have no use for them. Amen!
Don’t believe me? Read on. Can’t make sense of what I’m saying? Read on. Angry because you are one of those weird human beings that we regular people refer to as a “math person,” which is really just a kind way of saying, “you know, that guy is just flat weird.” ? Get over it and read on.
(Math Rant #1: Look, I love math people. My wife loves numbers and my brother-in-law loves them so much he majored…HE MAJORED!!!….in math. So, don’t get me wrong here…I’m not “Anti-math-person.” I’m just “anti-math.”)
Anyways, let’s first explore the whole idea of God not liking formulas. To do so, come with me to the book of Job. This book is one of the most interesting books in the entire Bible, in my opinion. Basically, in Job, bad things happen to a good person. Check that….horrific tragedies happen to one of the most righteous people to walk the land.
(Sidenote #1-God’s own words about Job in Job 1:8 “there is none like him on earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil.” WOW!! Oh to be described that like not by man, but by the Lord God Himself!!! What an endorsement!)
Job loses ALL his children, his livestock, his sheep, his camels, most of his servants, and his own health(what would Joel Osteen think of this??). Satan has worked this evil thinking that Job would turn from God when God’s goodness was not quite apparent. All of this happens just in chapter 1. Then, Job’s “friends” come to visit and comfort him. The trouble begins when these friends start to open their mouths and talk.
See, when they talk, they accuse Job of some hidden or unconfessed sin. They reasoned that Job MUST have done something to DESERVE this excruciating suffering. Over and over they hit Job with their Formula of why suffering happens. Their simplistic view of God would be this:
Suffering = Man + Hidden/Unconfessed Sin + God’s judgement
Or to put it in words: Suffering happens BECAUSE God is punishing Man for some sin or iniquity. And Blessing happens when Man lives obediently and uprightly. (for another startling example of this thinking, go to John 9. Jesus is asked about why a blind man is blind. Very formula-type thinking that Jesus blows up.)
That is the formula they cling too. This is the belief they try to convince Job of repeatedly. Great friends, huh?! “Hey, I know you are going through the toughest days of your life…but, here…let me tell you why. See, God is doing this to you because you aren’t living right. God is clearly punishing you for some sin.”
This goes on for most of the middle part of Job. Job defends his life, his friends contend against him. By chapter 38, I’m guessing God has had enough of the nonsense. He will utterly destroy their simplistic formulaic view of His judgments and His ways.
From chapter 38 through 41, God lets loose with mighty and holy passion. Through a series of questions and descriptions of His creation, God asserts His rightful position as Creator and Sustainer of Life. It all points to God as being totally in control and totally Sovereign.
(Sidenote #2-Reading through God’s language and imagery as He describes stuff like horses, lightning bolts, snow, or the Leviathan, I am simply blown away. Again, some of the coolest stuff in the whole Bible. God just lets loose and reminds of His amazing creation. He is the Artist and He delights in His masterpieces. The only word I can use for it is stunning.)
What’s amazing is that in all His eloquent words, God does not address the question of “why do terrible things happen to righteous people like Job?” You see, He is not to be fit into some simple formula. His ways are much higher than the trite “a + b = c” expressions of these supposed wise men.
He is in fact the LORD GOD. He reigns over all life, all death, all creation. As Kuyper put it long ago, “there is not one square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, Who is sovereign over all, does not say, ‘Mine!’”
Evil has power, but only as far as God will allow.
He ALONE is Sovereign and Loving and He is in control. In the good times and bad. Therefore, He is trustworthy.
This truth of God’s role, not some simple formulaic way of thinking, is what Job comes to realize as God is laying out His questions to Job. By the end, Job’s questions may not have been answered……..but his problem had been solved. Job knows firsthand that the Lord God is in Heaven and He does what He pleases. He is reminded of the loving hand of the Divine Creator. He is humbled by the sheer, magnificent power of God.
The result? Job does not come away with some silly slogan that he can put on a Jesus T-shirt. Job doesn’t have some clever little proverb to put on a bumper sticker. Certainly, Job does not have a formula for how and why God does things and allows certain things.
Instead, Job knows that the Lord God is both mighty and mysterious. Instead Job knows that God’s ways are not always so cut and dry. Instead….Job comes to a place of repentance and worship. “I know that You can do everything, and that NO purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” (Job 42:2). Job rightly places God as the Lord of His life again. This is a credit to Job, and God ends up blessing him big time in the end. Job knows that God is not about Formulas….but that He IS a God in whom he can place absolute Faith.
Job may not always understand why something happens, but he can have faith in the All-Powerful God. The One True God.
(Sidenote#3—This is already getting kinda long, isn’t it? Yikes! Ok, Ok, I will try and wrap it up here. Stay with me. STAY WITH ME!)
So what about Fractions?
(Math rant#2—why couldn’t I have more math teachers like my music teacher in 4th grade? She was actually the best math teacher I had. Big, heavy-set lady named Mrs. Outley, with the longest fingernails you’d ever see. She made up songs like this, “multiplin’ fractions…ain’t no problem. It’s the top times the top and the bottom times the bottom.” Effective, right? I still remember that and 4th grade was in like, 1992 for me. Why couldn’t she have been my algebra teacher?)
Journey with me to Matthew 22:34-40. A Pharisee who was also a lawyer (what a hilarious and yet tragically sad combination!) comes out and asks this very blunt question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?”
Basically…he’s asking Jesus to bottom-line it here. What is the MOST IMPORTANT thing in ALL of life?
Read Jesus’ words and allow this to hit you with the force that it carries:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
Now, did you catch any fractions in there? Any place where only 80% is required? Any area of our lives that we only need to give 33% to God? Is God ok with us only loving Him with 90% or ourselves?
Nay. In God’s eyes, fractions are worthless.
He does not say, “Give God a couple hours on Sunday, maybe a Wednesday night, and maybe a quick prayer before some meals. And it would be great if you could think of Him once during the Christmas season.” You see, that would be a very fractional-love.
Maybe not even “love” at all.
Jesus is very plain. The most important thing in all of life is to love God with 100% of our hearts, 100% of our souls, and 100% of our minds. Nothing half-way, nothing 50/50, nothing fractional at all. Everything else hangs on us FULLY loving God.
It is FULL love that He desires, not fractions. This is what pleases God, and ultimaltely what will please us too.
Now let’s close with one more math concept. Put 2 and 2 together here. Why love God with everything we have? Why make Him the Treasure of our lives? Look back at the discovery of Job. God alone is Sovereign. God alone is Powerful. No plan of His can be stopped. And God alone saves us! He saves us with His love that was shown clearly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We can have Faith and we can love God FULLY for He has first loved us (1 John 4:19).
We can have Faith and we can love God FULLY for He has demonstrated this amazing love (Romans 5:8).
We can have Faith and we can love God FULLY for He is on His throne and He controls all and His plans are not stopped.
We can have Faith and we can love God FULLY for He is God…and we are not.
No more formulas and fractions….just a Faith that is Full of Love for Him.
Thanks for getting all the way through this. As always, appreciate your feedback, thoughts, disagreements, illustrations, movie-scene suggestions, etc.
Thanks for reading. I pray you are encouraged.