“I was a father to the needy,
and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.
I broke the fangs of the unrighteous
and made him drop his prey from his teeth.”
Job 29:16-17 [ESV]
In Job, chapter 29, the afflicted Job reflects on his days of prosperity. He remembers the Lord’s blessings on his life, the position of honor he had held, and the respect he was given. As the chapter unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that the great esteem paid to Job was rooted in the depth of the character he possessed. Most notably, Job was known to be a refuge for the poor and a father to the fatherless (v. 12). Not only that, he cared for the weak, the blind, and the lame. Job was also a source of joy to widows (v. 13). In short, Job enjoyed God’s blessings because his life was marked by God’s character. He had earned the respect of all because he showed respect and compassion to all.
Job may not have understood the details of his suffering, but he understood his prosperity (and thinking rightly about his prosperity, in large part prepared him to endure his adversity – but that’s another topic.) Job understood that he prospered so that he could lift up the helpless, give hope to the hopeless, and care for the vulnerable. In doing so, he reflected the heart of the God he worshipped. Job knew his power and position were given to him not merely as a blessing for him to enjoy but primarily as a trust for him to manage, a trust given for the benefit of others.
Job and his faithfulness to reflect God’s image serve to remind the contemporary church of the glory we have lost, or more accurately, the glory we have forsaken. As Christ’s church, heavy with prosperity, we have largely forgotten that everything we have is a trust. (And our faithlessness in our prosperity has left us ill-equipped to handle adversity – but that’s another topic.) We have not leveraged our resources in this world for the benefit of others; therefore, it is no mystery that we are in a drought of spiritual power (Luke 16:1-13). For the most part, we have not been faithful with worldly wealth, therefore, we have not been trusted with true riches (v. 11).
We must regain a biblical theology of wealth (in direct contradiction to the false prosperity gospel preached from so many popular platforms). A return to this rich understanding of prosperity as a temporary trust will revolutionize the community of our congregations. A restoration of a biblical view of stuff would transform marriages and open the flood gates of peace, joy, and contentment.
Another challenge Job offers, also related to this idea of wealth, is our willingness to advocate for the helpless and the vulnerable. While this would call us, as ambassadors of God’s kingdom, to action in many arenas, a most pressing issue at present is the vulnerability of the unborn.
Shocking videos have awoken many to the horrors that go on in this nation under the guise of “women’s health.” I can only pray that a national conscience will develop in response to this powerful peek behind the curtain. How several can still defend the offending institution is frightening evidence to how the love of money, power, and personal autonomy can so blind and corrupt individuals. Yet even through all the political spin and media noise, there is much we can do to oppose this culture of death:
1. Take action to “break the fangs of the unrighteous.” Twitter may be all a flutter with #DefundPP, but hashtags don’t save lives. Contact state and national representatives and let them know that you expect them to do everything in their power to defund Planned Parenthood and to protect helpless children from their barbaric practices. [Disclaimer: If you cannot be polite, please do not call.
2. Support pro-life, pro-adoption agencies. There are organizations all over the United States who genuinely care for women. They are staffed by compassionate individuals who provide an attentive ear and an embracing arm. These organizations are served by sacrificial volunteers who provide, not merely services, but loving counsel and the investment of friendship. These organizations survive on donations, are fueled by volunteers, and are worthy of any investment we can give them, whether that be money or time.
3. Be part of the solution. This problem is so vast and complicated and far-reaching that it will take all of us. I am not just talking about abortion, but the problem of hopelessness, loneliness, and isolation. There are great needs in the foster care system, for adoption, and for protecting women. On top of all this, the related issues of human-trafficking and pornography and abuse are staggering. Adopt. Advocate. Educate. Above all, get to know people and be a safe place for them. Learn how to love deeply while holding onto and offering truth, because in that truth is healing, hope, recovery, and life.
In doing all this, we reflect the image of our God. We hold out the gospel of life. And we position ourselves, once again, to receive true riches. (That was another allusion to Luke 16; go ahead and give it a read.)