Daily Riches: Transcending Obedience and Virtue (Walter Brueggemann)

“Job, and even more his friends, are models of ideological certitude. That kind of moral certitude, however, does not matter ultimately because we are not saved by our virtue. No one can stand in the face of the whirlwind on a soap-box of virtue. …Job learned what we all learn sooner or later. Virtue does not suffice. Integrity does not give life. Being right is no substitute for being amazed. Controlling will not substitute for yielding in awe and wonder and amazement. The shift to Job’s other language is practically urgent, as it is theologically imperative. The shift to doxology as a mode of life is theologically imperative because praise breaks our terrible idolatries. We live in a society of preferred virtues or convinced moralities, or exacting, relentless idolatries. As with Job, these idols of self-congratulations block healing, make us falsely at ease, prevent transformation, and reduce life to a set of slogans and technologies. The alternative good news of the poem [the book of Job] is that we are made for a second conversation that surprises us and that we can never anticipate. After our earnest behavior, we are invited to doxological yielding. The shift in language destabilized us, puts us at risk, debunks our control, eases our need to dominate, and lets us yield without pouting, submit without resentment, and receive as gift a new restlessness that is communion and praise. After the yielding lyric, we are like Job. We still must go home and live as virtuously as possible. We have, however, been decisively intruded upon, invaded, overwhelmed, reduced to stunned silence, taken seriously by eternity, and finally, like Job approved in our virtue (42:7-8).” Walter Brueggemann

“I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes
to show my repentance.”
Job 42:6

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If someone as admirable and exceptional as Job needed a “conversation” with God to change him and his perspective, how much more is this likely true of you or me?
  • Has your experience of God ever left you feeling “decisively intruded upon, invaded, overwhelmed, reduced to stunned silence?”
  • If not, are you open to an encounter with God that “destabilizes” you, and removes your sense of control, and where you “receive as gift a new restlessness that is communion and praise?”

Abba, in the face of the whirlwind may I never forget the importance of virtue – or the limitations of it in my life with you.

For More: Threat of Life by Walter Brueggemann

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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