Discussion about One of the Greatest Books of the Bible

So I just came from leading my first ever bible study/life group/ group of believers in discussion. I definitely think I could have done better: I was quite nervous and so couldn’t direct the conversation as much as I wanted and didn’t say things as elegantly or as confidently as I would have wanted.

BUT the conversation had a wonderful conclusion: we created a plan and decided we will take action to bless the life of someone less fortunate than us i.e. the neighbour of the life group leader. We are doing things to be salt and light upon this Earth. :D

I just thought I would share with you the notes that I took into the Bible Study and talk about some of the cool ideas that came out as a result of the discussion. I hope this inspires some reflection and action in your neck in the woods.

Before You Read this

1) Check out this Wkipedia Page that summarises one of the greatest books in the Bible: the Book of Job.

2) Read the first two and final chapters of Job.

This will help you put the notes below, which I have not edited into an understandable context.

Job: The Definition of Faith and Love

Read the first two chapters of Job to put everything in context and also hand out the Wikipedia narrative.

TEST NUMBER ONE

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall depart,
The LOrd gave and the Lord has taken away,
MAY THE NAME OF THE LORD BE PRAISED”


Christianity had stopped working for Job by this point:

1) Would you have, at the very least, cursed God?
2) Would you have kept your faith?
3) Most of all, would you have kept loving, fearing and praising God

TEST NUMBER TWO

He had painful sores all over his body. He was scraping himself with a piece of pottery.

When his wife told him to let go of his integrity and curse God he said:

“Shall we accept good from God and not trouble.”

1) Have you ever truly embraced the fact that all throughout your journey you will receive unexplainable blessings AND unexplainable curses?
2) Are you willing to only accept the good, but not the bad?


SEPARATE APPLICATION: Job’s Story as a Metaphor for Human Relationships

1) How many of us would do this in our relationships with our fellow human beings?
2) How many of us would continue to hold on to faith and love and give to others even when beyond not working it’s hurting us?
3) Would we give up during the first strike (he lost his sheep and servants) in a human relationship?
4) Would we give up during the second strike (he lost his camels) in a human relationship?
5) Would we give up during the third strike (he lost ALL his children) ?
6) Would we have the strength to persevere a second test?

Some Interesting Thoughts that Came Out of It

I have touched on this briefly when I wrote about Western Entitlement Syndrome: We talked  about the reasons why young adults, 18 to 25 are the ones with the largest dropout rate within the church community of Australia:

Christian Life Cycle

When young, there is a kid’s program where kids are rewarded with movie nights, lollipops, music, games, fictional characters and are basically made to feel welcome and loved within the church.

In the teenage years the same thing continues, with music concerts, social events and camps and the church always trying to make sure that the young person has fun within a positive faith-based community.

In both these stages of life, the Church emphasizes the role of God as the provider of all things.

Where the Doo-Dah Hits the Fan

The problem is, through all these years, the young believer has never been taught how to do three things:

a) Process their Christianity and faith in God for themselves. People are never encouraged to get out of their complacent fun times as young people and just think about:

  • Whether or not they believe in God
  • Why they believe in God
  • What they struggle with
  • Contradictions and doubts
  • The consequences of a walk of faith

b) People are never encouraged to actually step out and do things in Christian faith. The emphasis is far too great on spoon feeding them love and encouragement without forcing them to get out there in faith to advance the Kingdom or the work of the Church.

c) They don’t hear enough or have it internalized that as the verse says:

The LOrd gave and the Lord has taken away,

The emphasis is far too great on God giving and never on the facts that:

  • He gives arbitrarily and not always in accordance with our schedule i.e. life isn’t always fair and life doesn’t always give you what you want.
  • Bad things happen to good people. They always have and they always will and we are yet to have sufficient explanation for this and probably never will.

I think this should be enough for now, I will expound on this further in the comments section and I have also discussed some further insights from the night on the site, Kenya Imagine (check out the Displaced African blog on Kenya Imagine).

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Be blessed and be a blessing unto others,

Mwangi

No Comments

  • By Tony, August 2, 2008 @ 11:01 pm

    Job’s actions were motivated by his personal experience gained through a sincere relationship with God. Some things cannot be understood by standing afar off. The account of his experience shows that he was ready to continue serving God, even if his misfortune will not be reversed.

    Unfortunately, in our generation, the personal experience is missing. Too many are like the Israelite who will rather hear from Moses instead of direct from God. We just want the blessing and no relationship with God. No wonder many see God as Father Christmas and get offended when things don’t go according to their plan or schedule – I’m proud to be a Sinners Saved by Jesus.

  • By mwasjd, August 3, 2008 @ 12:33 am

    Deep stuff dude. I’m in such a kind of study, doing Peace & Reconciliation. The point of guys living out their faith actively and still addressing/going through reality is spot on. Seems that is what’s kept me in the Way despite mob stumbling & messing up.

  • By Barry, August 3, 2008 @ 9:30 am

    Great stuff! I’m teaching from Job tomorrow morning and we both are seeing the same things.
    I like your blog Brah! I’m a friend of Erwin’s also.
    Hope we meet someday.
    Peace and Courage,
    Barry

  • By Robert Sutherland, August 4, 2008 @ 3:43 am

    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

  • By Mwangi, August 4, 2008 @ 7:23 am

    @Tony: Thanks for sharing. An interesting thought that came out of the discussion was:

    What if Job had never been blessed by God to begin with? Would he have had as much faith and persistence in his spirit if he was a pauper who God allowed to be cursed by the devil?

    It was just an interesting point that came up that no one really had an answer to, myself included. How much of his faithfulness was based on his personal relationship with God? How much on his blessings? How much on purely faith? How much on fear?

    Philosophers truly do have more questions than answers some times don’t they :P

  • By Mwangi, August 4, 2008 @ 7:25 am

    @mwasjd: As always, glad to be of service. Hope I help you when there is a bible study coming up and nothing is stirring in you. I have given you a quick cheat sheet/reference guide :P What is Peace and reconciliation?

    Btw, whatever happened to your love sickness? Mine faded away over time and is now to a large extent gone and now we are just fantastic friends.

  • By Mwangi, August 4, 2008 @ 7:27 am

    @Barry: Thank you for the kind words. Though of course in the spirit of honesty I must of course come clean and say I am far from born again and far from an intimate day to day walk with God. But I have always loved and admired the church and love so much being a part of the church and a lot of the teachings of the good book.

    I am a huge fan of Erwin, he is part of the reason I am still in church today. I have been trying to get an interview with him for a couple of weeks now. Any ideas?

  • By Mwangi, August 4, 2008 @ 8:01 am

    @Robert Sutherland: Thank you for sharing. I will also attach the document that you sent me and hopefully that will spark some thought in anyone reading this:

    I HAD TO DELETE THIS FILE (The file is an MS Word document)

  • By kelly, August 4, 2008 @ 4:06 pm

    Finally got to it. This was a fantastic topic to have as a Bible study. As one who dismisses people on strike one, I think it’s a challenge, when you relate Job’s story to our relationships..
    As for taking trials from God, I have a kind of warped thinking on this. I never really imagine that God would set out to torture me, so when I’m going through hard times, I attribute it to something I have done to anger God, or Satan is messing with me.

  • By Evan, August 4, 2008 @ 5:15 pm

    Hi Mwangi,

    That it resulted in action is truly awesome.

    Tony Compalo was interviewed on Radio National’s Law Report (an Australian radio station) when he was counselling Bill Clinton after his adultery was exposed.

    The host asked him if he just wasn’t being exploited by Bill Clinton for PR purposes. Tony Compalo’s response (I paraphrase) was: if your not prepared to be betrayed don’t sign up. To the point and very thought provoking.

  • By Mwangi, August 4, 2008 @ 9:11 pm

    @kelly: I think your view is almost exactly the one that Job had, except from the superficial impressions I have of the book, Job didn’t ever blame his problems on the devil. He always looked to God as though he had sinned and was willing to do whatever it took to purge himself of that.
    Anyway hope this helped you in the midst of your soul stirring to lift your spirit even higher.

  • By Mwangi, August 4, 2008 @ 9:14 pm

    @Evan: What an interesting retort to that question. Really resonates with the statement:

    “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble.”

    Yeah I am so psyched that on my first try I actually helped us move beyond reflection and investigation to action. I am psyched

  • By Robert Sutherland, August 16, 2008 @ 9:20 pm

    It’s after the 14th. Would you please take down the download?

  • By Mwangi, August 16, 2008 @ 10:05 pm

    @Robert: Done!

Other Links to this Post

  1. Human Guides « Child Of The Stars — August 31, 2008 @ 1:56 pm

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