Campus ministry is a unique experience that often takes different forms and shapes because of the vast differences in the campus cultures even in the same city. One group can be made up of students who grew up in the church with a ton of preconceived ideas about God while others are a fresh slate ready to take it all in for the first time. This week in my personal study I came across an excerpt in the book “Walking In the Dust of Rabbi Jesus” by Lois Tverberg, talking about Job and the dialog that takes place between him and his three friends Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar as to why Job is suffering. There assumption is that Job must be suffering because of his own sins. Tverberg has this insight as to why the three friends didn’t understand Job’s suffering or Job’s frustration at God.
“Job’s friends were making the mistake that Western Christians do today when we don’t have a Hebraic understanding of the “knowledge of God”—da’at Elohim. A Westerner opens the Bible and wants to prove God’s existence and construct a theology to explain God’s nature. We would call that “knowledge of God.” But in Hebrew, to “know” someone was to be familiar with him through experience and relationship, as a wife knows her husband.”
“While Job’s friends had a theoretical knowledge of God, Job knew God in this latter, Hebraic sense of the word. Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft writes:
Job sticks to God, retains intimacy, passion and care, while the three friends are satisfied with correctness of words, “dead orthodoxy.” Job’s words do not accurately reflect God as Job’s friends’ do, but Job himself is in true relationship with God, as the three friends are not: a relationship of heart and soul, life-or-death passion…. Job stays married to God and throws dishes at him; the three friends have a polite non-marriage, with separate bedrooms and separate vacations.”
I immediately thought this to be the biggest task we have with students. To lead them in such away that they can encounter God on such a personal level that there is no doubt about the intimate relationship with God. This is what we so often miss in reading Scripture… we miss or don’t really understand the personal interaction people of the Bible had with God. As a result it becomes things we know about God but the key to authentic discipleship is to understand the true knowledge of God comes through the experience of the relationship with God.