Spreading a rumor is assassinating a character on the installment plan. Insidious caricatures of reality cloaked in vestiges of truth eat away at the foundation of an integrity someone has worked a long time to set in place.
Contemporary culture is pathological about them…it is the stuff of viral tweets and obsessive news cycles.
A rumor is an ugly thing. Spreading rumors is an ugly business.
That is why Job’s confession in his intimate and raw debate with God is shocking: “I admit I once lived by rumors of you…“
Rumors of God.
Not reality, or actual knowledge, or immediate experience.
Rumors. Hearsay. Gossip…about God!
Parodies of a loving Father that bear just enough veracity to feel true but which contain the poison of doubt that rots trust. The one who believes them is left with a skewed and spoiled view of the One they so drastically misrepresent.
When I as a Jesus follower spout my second-hand knowledge of a first-hand God, or pass along some “truth” I have only heard from someone else (even an “expert”) I am spreading rumors about God.
They help no one…especially me.
Truth is something that can only be known in direct experience of the One who is True—that is, real to things as they ultimately are. To know and spread truth I must know and love the True One.
You see, when God addressed Job’s misunderstandings and realigned his misconceptions, He never defended or explained Himself. He simply offered questions that drove home to Job a central and sustaining reality: “I am undeniably wiser, stronger and more loving than you have ever dared to dream.”
By challenging Job’s honest but limited perspective, God unveiled a shadow of His greatness; a hint of His goodness. Job literally didn’t know what to say in response.
For the first time in His life Job got an unfiltered view of God…and he was undone.
Job realized his clue-bag was empty. He had never seen the eternal viewpoint or known the depth of God’s compassionate wisdom.
Trying to comprehend the work or judge the motives of God based on inaccurate rumors of Him always leads to inadequate perspective and implausible ideas.
God’s view is panoramic and eternal. It spans beginning to end.
God had already resolved to restore and enlarge Job’s life before He allowed the painful testing to begin. As Alpha He initiated it. As Omega He would consummate it. None of the momentary, painful stuff in between could alter the outcome.
Job finally got it. God loved him with more fervent passion and more steady purpose than he ever imagined. He now understood God’s ultimate wisdom and unalterable love.
Job’s response to this deeper understanding of what he had been through was to declare: “…now I have it all firsthand…I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”
Rumors of God never match the reality of God.
See for yourself.
(See Job 42:1-6, The Message)