Fear? Love? Reflections 6-20-18

 For Sunday June 24, 2018 
 5th Sunday after   Pentecost

 Job 38:1-11
 Psalm 107: 1-3, 23-32
 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
 Mark 4:35-41

When I teach Luther’s meaning to the Ten Commandments, one of the first discussions to take place is on what Luther means when he says “We are to fear and love God …”, which he says 10 times so you can't ignore it.

They ask, “God wants me to be scared?” In over 30 years of teaching the Small Catechism to young Lutherans, I have become notorious for answering the question with a question. Actually, that is what the catechetical method of teaching means: asking questions, for example, “what does this mean”? 

And so, after their initial question about “why fear”, my students are asked things like: Are you scared of God? Why would Luther think you should fear God? What is fear? Is there anything or anyone else that you fear… and love? I keep pushing them to use their developing critical thinking ability to think it through.

Note: Hell doesn't come up anymore. That is 

So, how about you? What do you think Luther means? Even the most recent and contemporary wording of the Catechism sticks with the word “fear”, so there is no dodging it. Luther means fear… and love.

This week’s reading from Job gives some clues. Job, who has literally lost everything but his life, is asking “why do bad things happen to good people?”. His understanding of this “system” called life has gone wonky. He is a good person, but whoa! Bad things have happened!  His “friends” gather round and encourage him to repent because “since bad things only happen to bad people, own up, Job. You did something. We won’t tell anybody”. At one point, Job calls his friends “miserable comforters”.

After 36 chapters of the friends' accusations and Job’s disputations, God… and frankly, the reader… is tired of it all. So, God steps in and “answers” out of a whirlwind…. Note that God uses questions to answer the question. I think those questions get at the meaning of the fear of which Luther speaks. And, of the love as well.

Job’s worldview is way too small and way too neat. There is no tidy framework; chaos happens. God holds a cosmic all-of-time view. At the same time, God does come. In the midst of chaos, God is steadfastly present.  

When has your worldview gone wonky? 
What is your experience of chaos?  
Where is God in all that?

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