Job’s friends

Writing my last post on “objectivity” I was reminded of a Facebook post I read by Mykhailo Cherenkov, who I have read and respected for years. I think it’s relevant… and for those who wish to lead in a global sphere, or just be a helpful member in the global body of Christ, these words need to be taken to heart… So, with plain translation and no other comment:

Job’s Friends

I am not the only one in recent days who has recalled Job’s friends: intelligent, pious, respectable, cautious. They said everything just right. But he answered them: “What sorry comforters you are…”

Wise people are writing about what is happening in Ukraine from the US, Russia, Germany… the greater the distance, the easier it is to write. Pastoral letters are sent from comfortable offices. Everything is more or less correct, but not quite… Sorry words, sorry comforters.

When a coffin was carried past me, bearing one shot by a sniper, I understood that this requires a different answer, one which people who stand aside cannot give. We don’t need theodicy, we don’t need moralizing. We need compassion and sympathy, we need fellowship and collaboration. This requires leaving the zone of neutrality, even just one first step into reality – where there are cries, tears, danger, hope, and, amidst it all – God.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mike P says:

    Wow. Thanks for that Jim. It washed over me that this is the Way of the Christ. To enter, intimately so, into our pain, confusion, anger, and sorrow with compassionate Presence…What would you or Mr. Cherenkov think those ‘first steps into reality’ would look like for those of us who are so far distant?

  2. jimbaker2012 says:

    Thanks, Mike. Great question. My first thought involves a negative and positive element. Negatively, to suspend judgement when it comes to complex situations which involve human suffering. To not prioritize our own ability to “make sense” out of things or to have the “right” (or “Christian” or “evangelical”) position on this. It reminds me of our work in Ukraine with people living with AIDS… how often, especially in the early days, the response from many in church leadership was to ask “whether or not they were guilty,” that explaining the circumstances behind their plight – in order to figure out into which moral “box” they should be placed – was more important than loving them.
    Positively, it would be to do whatever one can to a) connect with and b) respond to those who are suffering, those who are desperate, those who are need or on the margins. With the internet today, that’s easier… It may involve reading and praying over things with which we don’t agree. And responding to the cries of people’s hearts. For example, many Ukrainians have been begging, from the first days of the protests, for sanctions to be imposed against the criminal elements of the regime. While political engagement of this sort may not be “our” thing, it’s something we can do that our brothers and sisters are begging us to do on their behalf.
    For me, I have found that the challenge of my brothers and sisters on Maidan has galvanized not only my attitude toward what’s happening in Ukraine, but my perception that we are ALL involved in this battle,… and that sweeping or dismissive pronouncements from comfy chairs are not the weapons with which the victory will be won. That will help our engagement in confronting evil with good right where we are right now.

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