TODAY’S READING: Job 35–37
Elihu, being half-right about God, had God horribly wrong. Elihu intoned that God is great (true) and that we do not know Him (false) in Job 36:26. Elihu said that God is awesome in majesty (true) and that we cannot find Him (false) in Job 37:22–23. No Christian and no missionary can afford to be half-right about God, especially as we are charged with presenting the fullness of God to the nations.
Job is a missionary book. Even Elihu in his youthful arrogance was aware that God is at work across the peoples of the earth, his speech being full of global references: “For by these [God] judges the peoples…. He sends it forth under the whole heaven, His lightning to the ends of the earth…. He seals the hand of every man, that all men may know His work…that they may do whatever He commands them on the face of the whole earth” (36:31; 37:3, 7, 12). Elihu, this young, arrogant pre-Saudi, recognized that God intends to be worshiped and glorified by all the peoples of earth. Which brings up Elihu’s second error. He was right in much that he said, but because he said it from an arrogant posture [“one who is perfect in knowledge is with you” (36:4)], he lost his audience. Elihu’s arrogance restricted his truth from being heard—as can tragically be the case in missions.
When we as missionaries go out among the nations with the right view of God but the wrong view of ourselves (one who is perfect is with you!), we do incalculable damage to the gospel. Yes, the missionary task is to speak towards the fullness of the character of God. Yes, the missionary task is to confront idols and the deceptions of Satan. Yes, the missionary task is to be passionately against the things that infuriate and insult the holiness of God. And yes, the missionary task is to speak truth with both fire and lowliness—a combination most difficult for the young and most impossible in our own strength.
Good missionaries, good Christians are both right-minded and right-hearted. Good missionaries are courageous enough to speak for God and humble enough to learn from those enslaved in the very idolatry the missionary opposes. Good missionaries are lowly enough to glean from the very ones they harvest.