TODAY’S READING: Job 32–34
An intriguing if mysterious figure enters the story of Job, a young man, Elihu, whose name intriguingly means “My God is He.” Just as intriguingly, the Buzites were most likely from Northern Arabia, a land described as full of snakes and scorpions. Elihu is a rather smug little lad whose scholarship is matched only by his arrogance. Elihu castigates Job’s friends for being unreasonable and without answers (Job 32:11–12), and he condemns Job for being unwise and speaking without knowledge. In contrast to his lacking elders, Elihu is fairly confident that he understands God’s character and ways. Elihu is smart enough to be half right. But the trouble with being half right theologically is that it usually means you have God disastrously wrong.
Elihu is right that God is greater than man (33:12) and Elihu is right that God “if He should set His heart on it, if He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust” (34:14–15). Elihu is right about God’s transcendence, power, authority, and majestic sovereignty. But in not knowing God’s tenderness, mercy, love, compassion, and immediacy, Elihu gets God wrong—for a half-right view of God is fully idolatrous.
False religions have God half right. Islam is right that God is transcendent, but Islam denies the incarnation, Islam denies God was made flesh. Islam gets God tragically wrong. What is most important therefore in missions and gospel proclamation to God’s beloved peoples of earth is not where we agree, but where we disagree. If we only spend our time affirming points of agreements with those who hail from non-Christian faiths, we only reinforce their errant and idolatrous views of God. The most loving thing we can do in missions is to winsomely and passionately engage others on where the Bible differs with their view of God—and particularly their view of Jesus as God.
A good missionary does not waste much time agreeing with idolaters. A good missionary is so zealous for the true nature of God, he or she does not congratulate the half-righters, but instead challenges the half-wrongers to repent and bow before the God who is both transcendent and intimate, both loving and angry with sinners every day, both holy and kind.
 “Palestine, 3.” https://www.internationalstandardbible.com/P/palestine-3.html. Accessed January 7, 2019.