I had already begun to conceptualize a post about judgment. Actually, it was going to be about the positive aspects of judgment, an uplifting expose. Then I read this: Poll: 52 percent approve of God’s job performance.
Really? My first reaction was that the poll itself was asinine. The more I thought about it, the more I was left thinking that there were a lot of people taking a lot of liberty to which they’re not entitled. Who am I, or anyone else, to think they can pass judgment on God? By human standards of justice alone, you can’t even begin to go to trial because we don’t have all the facts, enough of the facts, or are even capable of understanding all of it. This is God. Not the President, the Congress, or American Idol. We have become a very judgmental people, and I’m not talking about Christians! I’m talking about Americans. At some point, we figured that not only do we have the ability, but we have the right to judge all kinds of things. We judge relationships on The Bachelor. We judge musical talent on American Idol. We judge dancing ability on So You Think You Can Dance. What is really intriguing is that we don’t pass our judgment after a long deliberation. We do it in under an hour and mostly via casual media like phone calls, texts, and internet voting. I have nothing against these voting shows. I happen to be a big fan of So You Think You Can Dance, but I understand that the fun I’m having watching dancers does not mean that I am suddenly some kind of universal expert capable of judging all things, especially not God.
I have myself experienced and have a real empathy for those who are in the midst of a tremendous personal tragedy that makes them wonder where God is and why things are allowed to happen. It’s done while under duress and during stress. That is not the same thing as sitting in judgment from the outside while we’re cool and calm. There is an infamous case study in the Bible about calling God into account. Job had no idea what he was getting into. He spends 35 chapters debating with his friends, lamenting his tortured state, proclaiming his innocence, and demanding an account from God. He gets his wish. God shows up in a whirlwind and has this response for Job:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me” (Job 38:2-3 NRS).
This proclamation that Job prepare himself for battle with God (Gird up your loins) is the beginning of a verbal barrage where God asks Job where he was when God formed the world, created the life upon it, and other miraculous works of God. God asks Job if he has the powers to do the things God can do. Of course, Job doesn’t. He is not the one with the power and the authority. Job is not in a position to understand, and therefore he cannot judge. Even when he starts to withdraw his previous calls for God to justify himself, God says:
“Gird up your loins like a man; I will question you, and you declare to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified?” (Job 40:7-8 NRS).
There is something in Job’s standing in judgment over God that conveys a sense that in judging we are condemning someone else that we might be justified. If Job determines God was wrong, then he has also determined that he, Job, was right. God declares that Job cannot make that determination; he has no power with which to do it. God should know; he does have the power. While the final chapter of Job indicates that God feels Job has spoken rightly in some way even though Job called this confrontation with God upon himself (Job 42:7). Job’s lamentations were just, his condemnation of God was not. Job’s suffering did not mean that he couldn’t question and mourn. God is big enough to take that. When Job moved from that state into a place of demanding account from God, as if God is accountable to Job, he crossed a line. Since he persisted and escalated his demand, God replied, and Job was not prepared for the firestorm he would unleash. Job admits he didn’t know what he was doing, and he repents (Job 42:3-6).
We must be careful in our desire and our willingness to sit in judgment over anyone or anything. We cannot sit in judgment over God. There is vanity in thinking we can. We are not like God, and when humans tried to be they received the divine smack down. While that was a long time ago in a little garden, the ego remains in our DNA. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Adam and Eve learned that the hard way.
(Image courtesy of sionbarry.blogspot.com)