16. Our righteous response to God is His reward
We might align ourselves with a religious faith, but that does not guarantee our life in Him. A set of doctrines do not a life in Christ make. There has to be an individual commitment, not a group commitment. That individual commitment should remain paramount throughout our life, and no religious sect on earth can change that. We need the sect for social life in Christ, for our spiritual encouragement and for our education in Biblical matters, and for the encouragement of each other in worship. But that will not guarantee our Kingdom place.
Conversely, if we, still believing, but disappointingly leave membership of a religious sect, that does not mean we have left His truth. It is His truth, we do not own it, and we cannot consider who is in God’s Truth, and who is not in that Truth. We can decide who is in, or not in, our truth or religious sect, if we belong to such a group, but we cannot reject a believer from God’s Truth. The “Basics for Christian Living” is the faith statement for a life in Christ, the “so that I will” of doctrine.
Endurance of the difficulties is not just the ability to bear hard things that the Lord lays upon us, but the ability to turn them into the glory of God. Here is a difficulty for us, for it seems God expects more of us than bearing burdens. He expects us to bear the burdens that appear too hard for us to bear, and He says, “I am here”. That reassurance means that we can feel safe from our difficulties under His care. God may not answer our importuning as we wish, and it is often as if He does not hear, or is silent, or that He has turned His face away. But when all is said and done, in the dark hours of the night when there is no release from the pit, and the light eludes us, and we are howling with a terrible grief of rejection, He whispers, “I am here with you.” And that is, after all, enough. It is His “hiding place where He will preserve us, and where we are compassed about with songs of deliverance”, Psalm 32, from the reviling of men, their accusations and exclusions.
So it is not where God is when we are hurting so much, but where are we in the hurting?
Job (7:17-18) groaned from where he was, scared with dreams, and terrified with visions, and would choose strangling or death rather than speak with God, (for he knows he has come short of God’s standard). At first he cries out in frustration for God to leave him alone.
“Where is man that you make so much of him,
that you give him so much attention,
that you examine him in the morning
and test him at every moment?
Will you never look away from me,
or let me alone for an instant?”
However, the continuing argument in the book of Job, where Job defends his position, eventually demonstrates his unity with God, when God endorses Job. But there are five men here, with Job at centre stage. The accusers and the comforters argue with Job (35) that he has sinned and that he is so insignificant in the eyes of God that whatever Job would do, will not be noticed or have any effect on the universe.
“If you sin how does that affect God?
If your sins are many what does that do to Him?
If you are righteous what does that do to Him?
Or what does He receive from your hand?
Your wickedness affects only a man like yourself and your righteousness only the sons of men.”
But Elihu was wrong, for one person does make a difference, the faith of a single man counts very much, our response to God’s testing matters very much to Him. Job’s individual response was God’s reward, as is ours for Him, and then we are blessed.