Scripture: Job 38:1-7, 34-41
We live in a time where vast quantities of information is easily at hand. Because of this we can get comfortable in ourselves and our stances. We can make statements of opinion as fact because we know with just a few seconds of searching we can find pages of information supporting our claims. Why then are there still so many opionions? Why are Americans sitting around their breakroom tables, computers, and coffee shops fighting over who lied about what? Why are we as Americans fighting over when life begins when in science we have one answer, yet in politics we have multiple? Why are we fighting over countless issues?
We fight because in society we do not really know anything. Everything we are arguing over is just in actuality just opinions stated as fact. We do not truely know what will happen in the future because that is not for us to know. Social engineering is no a science or an art, it is at best theory and at worst wishful thinking.
Job gives us a picture into this. Those around him thought they had all the answers. Even he thought he knew what was going on, but in reality they were all equally clueless. God had to set them all straight. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements – surely you know!” I almost laugh at this because it is as if God just entered into a debate and every great thinker is left standing with their mouths open. “Where were you?” Its a simple question with a simple answer, we were not there, we did not exist! I do not care if you believe in God or not we were not anywhere near the begining of the universes the best we can do is come up with theories.
The story goes on to ask if we can lift up our voices to the clouds, that a flood of water may cover us? Can we send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, “here we are?” There are a number of things our greatest minds cannot understand or control. Does this mean we should step back, through up our hands and say who cares? No, but it also doe not mean we should be so bold as to suggest we are ever in full knowledge of everything. We do not understand because we cannot fully understand. We are observers in this world getting a limited view of the things around us, and filtering it through minds that have bias.
There are some things that we can build on. Our opinions are based on some knowledge, just as every opinion. It is important that we learn all we can about the world around us because we live here, and we should care for the places that we live. The ancient Hebrew poets have said that God placed us in the garden to have dominion, be caretakers, rule over it, bring it into submission, and conserve creation. All political buzz words that ultimately tell us the same thing take care of what we have.
When the first national parks came around people thought that they would keep it just as it was, protect it from harm and preserve nature. Quickly the forests would fill with plant life and become so full of growth everyone though how beautiful and full of life it is…but then lightning would strike, it would start a fire that would quickly consume the entire forest. The act of perserving actually devistated the park, what was thought to be good was not good at all. Quickly people began to realize that perservation takes work. Today, they systematically burn the forest, cut down trees, and let them regrow. Because in nature there are cycles of death and regrowth, pruning and branching out.
We do not know what is best. We have therories and educated opinions but ultimatley they are about as good as a devisted forest after a wildfire. We need a natural balance of burning, cutting, and growth. “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man: I will question you, and you make it known to me.” (Job 38:2-3, esv) If we want to perserve the land we live in, we need to gain knowledge, while at the same time recognizing that our knowledge is limited. We need to realize that there are certain ways to care for a forest, but those ways are not always the same for areas of grasslands or swamplands. Every community every enviroment is different in its own way. No one knows what is best for every enviroment, but we can observe and react to the neds at hand where we are. Get dressed for action, God tells Job, get to work where you are. We are finite creatures and can only collect a finite amount of information. What is most important is not what is happening in the capital, but what is happening right in your own home town.
That is where we can really do the work we are supposed to do. When Jesus sent out the apostles he told them to go first to Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. We could look at it as being get the capital first, but they were there already just outside of Jerusalem. So really what is being said start where you are. Then let the message spread. If we would all minister and invest in our own communities makeing them better we would see some great things happen. We do not haveto know what to do, we do not have to have ultimate knowledge, we are just called to get to work where we are letting God take care of the things we don’t understand.