Today’s Readings: Job 20:1-29; Matthew 15:1-9; Psalm 22:1-15
There is a theological stream of thought that undergirds portions of the Hebrew Scriptures. That stream runs something like this: if you are good, God will bless/reward you; if you are bad, God will curse/punish you. On the surface, this sounds like a helpful way of thinking. When applied to real life, however, this way of thinking often gets exposed as being less than helpful.
I had my own run in with this theological train of thought in my first job out of college. I worked diligently to establish myself as a conscience, hard worker during my first three years on the job. During my fourth year on the job, however, a new person started work in the facility. At first, she seemed like a wonderfully supportive person. She volunteered to help when my workload was overwhelming, and she was eager to sit and brainstorm new solutions to long-existing problems. Over time, however, she revealed herself to be a very different person.
The duties she helped with became weapons that were later used against the co-workers she assisted. The ideas that she helped brainstorm later became presented as her own. I had never met a more manipulative, vindictive person in my life.
During the three years that we worked together, I kept expecting her to get exposed for the person she really was. It never happened. She was a large part of the reason I chose to leave a job I had once loved.
Adherents of the bless/reward or curse/punishment theology would say, “Craig, you didn’t wait long enough. Eventually her bad behavior would have been punished.” Perhaps. All I know is that such a way of thinking – a way of thinking articulated by Zophar in today’s reading from Job – isn’t satisfying on many levels.
My question for you to consider today is this. When life throws you a curveball, and the good old bless/reward or curse/punish way of thinking breaks down for you, how do you make sense of what is happening? Til next time…