It is possible to be a Christian and still frustrate the Grace of God.
Many believe there are different ways and creeds to be observed in order to justify their closeness to God; they believe that when they fail in one of the creeds that they have fallen from the Grace of God. Whilst some have that ardent belief that the resultant factor of their multiple blessings are based on how well they have observed and kept the said creeds and ways. So when a Christian appears to be doing well and things are going on smoothly (like we portray today), we describe them as people who have been blessed by God. Whereas, there are some who are going through challenges and some who are going through life lessons (like Job did), for these ones, there is that tendency to think that they have missed out on the fulfillment of one creed or the other hence the reason why they suffer through their challenges.
It is more like we choose what we want in life, figure out what we have to do to get those things and then follow the rules (more like the rules of engagement). What then happens when the law does not work? We simply believe that we have not followed it well enough and therefore start an uphill task of looking for what we did wrong all through our life time, and never understand the workings of God.
When our life experiences appear to be smooth and without hiccups, we praise God but underneath our breath, there is that small voice confirming to us that we did one or two things to achieve that desired goal. The other side of the coin is when our life experiences are accompanied with challenges, setbacks or difficulties, then we pretend to praise God but something within us believes that it’s because we missed out on a principle hence the reason for why the desire was not achieved. Many gravitate to this ideology because, somewhere we have been given a false hope; by presenting God as the problem solver, rather than a God we should relate to. God wants to be seen and perceived as an end in Himself and not as a means to an end. When doing ‘right’ becomes a scheme to getting what we want from God, our energy becomes pride and our concentration is on self.
Job was described as a perfect and righteous man, one that hated evil. During his challenging ordeal, his friends came to him – one of whom is Eliphaz. We described the person of Eliphaz in our last article (The Grace Antagonists 1). At a point, he spoke about what he felt is the reason for any human being to be heavily challenged as Job was. Eliphaz had fasted and prayed like some of us would do today in order to resolve some of our challenges. Now he speaks! Here is what we can glean from his opening statements to Job.
“Would you mind if I said something to you? Under the circumstances it’s hard to keep quiet. You yourself have done this plenty of times, spoken words that clarify, encouraged those who were about to quit. Your words have put stumbling people on their feet, put fresh hope in people about to collapse. But now you’re the one in trouble—you’re hurting! You’ve been hit hard and you’re reeling from the blow. But shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence now? Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope”. He told Job that!
“Think! Has a truly innocent person ever ended up on the scrap heap? Do genuinely upright people ever lose out in the end? It’s my observation that those who plow evil and sow trouble reap evil and trouble. One breath from God and they fall apart, one blast of His anger and there’s nothing left of them. The mighty lion, king of the beasts, roars mightily, but when he’s toothless he’s useless—No teeth, no prey—and the cubs wander off to fend for themselves”. He continued!
“A word came to me in secret— a mere whisper of a word, but I heard it clearly. It came in a scary dream one night, after I had fallen into a deep, deep sleep. Dread stared me in the face, and Terror. I was scared to death—I shook from head to foot. A spirit glided right in front of me— the hair on my head stood on end. I couldn’t tell what it was that appeared there— a blur . . . and then I heard a muffled voice: “How can mere mortals be more righteous than God? How can humans be purer than their Creator? Why, God doesn’t even trust His own servants, doesn’t even cheer His angels, so how much less these bodies composed of mud, fragile as moths? These bodies of ours are here today and gone tomorrow, and no one even notices—gone without a trace. When the tent stakes are ripped up, the tent collapses— we die and are never the wiser for having lived.”
He thought that Job was being punished by God because of the things he perceived Job did wrong; maybe he thought Job had missed out on one of the creeds. He’s based it from the realm of experiences he’s had with people. He was so adamant that he could not be wrong and he went on to lash on Job. You don’t derive a general rule from someone’s experience. What has Eliphaz’s experience got to do with Job; were the challenges similar? NO. His argument will just become an exercise in futility because the situations weren’t the same.
This story of Eliphaz reminds me of the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Scribes and the Teachers of Jesus’ time. They were used to the old times and refused to move with God into the new dispensation when the time came, so they were left behind and remained antagonists to the New Covenant until today.
Apostle Paul rebuked the church at Galatia because they started with the New Covenant and decided to go back to the Old Covenant to be perfected because they had experienced it; the Apostle referred to that act as foolishness.
We cannot use our past experiences to factor out God. God must be factored out through His Word and nothing else. His Word is final authority!