An Unexpected Ending
There’s a scene in the Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days cinematic movie where both Axel and Roxas were concerned about Xion. The trio were often seen together but Roxas found it odd that Axel would be concerned. To explain himself, Axel asked Roxas why he would take the time to meet he and Xion for ice cream after nearly every work day. He said that he didn’t have to and it would actually be a lot easier if he didn’t but that he takes the time to do it anyway. Axel explains that the reason he takes extra time to be with Roxas and Xion is because the three of them are best friends.
Near the end of The Cake is a Lie, I reveal that I had been recently asked why I go to Church. “I mean, if you think about it, I don’t need to go out of my way to [attend Church].” I explain that I enjoy taking the extra time out of my week because I appreciate being around the people that are there. Now, I thought about taking a few screenshots from the “Because We’re Best Friends” scene on “Day 193” of the movie, but I decided not to.
See, I’ll usually identify with Roxas in that he doesn’t know who he is or why he can wield a Keyblade or why he’s fighting to collect hearts for the organization. In December 2018, I realized that if I removed my selfish hope for a special someone1, I really didn’t desire God. I had so many questions for God like “Why am I a Christian?” or “If I’ve been fighting myself for over two years because I desire this special person, who or where is she?” When Roxas demanded answers from Axel, I noticed that I was demanding similar answers from the Lord. This inspired the featured image to “My Disagreement with the Lord“. I didn’t use the scene where Axel explains why he meets with Roxas and Xion while explaining why I attend Church because I wanted Axel to continue enacting the role of God. “But Christopher! You only used Axel once to represent God in the last post and that was hardly a direct correlation.” Yes, but I wanted to preserve the symbolism because I intended to finish the post with a scene from Kingdom Hearts II where the role of God would be played by Axel, just one last time
At the beginning of Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas is stripped of all his memories from the past year: his time in Organization XIII, his ability to wield the Keyblade, his friendship with Axel. Over the next few days, he begins to regain his memories. He remembers his friendship with Axel. Just before encountering the one responsible for his memory loss, he is approached by Axel who was sent by the Organization’s leader to eradicate Roxas. Roxas, fully aware of his memories in the Organization, acknowledges Axel. Surprised that Roxas actually remembers him, he uses his elemental power of flames to summon a ring of fire around he and Roxas and exclaims, “…but you’re too late!”
After January, I essentially taught myself to forget the Lord. Regardless of all the reasons I should, the reality was that I didn’t have my own reason to love the Lord. I truly thought that, without a genuine reason to love Him, the battle for Salvation would remain lost.
“There was a time in my life I thought I loved Christ, but what is love? Why would I love Jesus Christ?”
– Robert Christopher Melton II, My Disagreement with The Lord
I was convinced I didn’t know what love was and since I didn’t, I believed an eternity of punishment awaited me. When I died, I was confident my Father would look at me one last time before my eternal separation. I would acknowledge Him as who He is and, to imitate the scene between Roxas and Axel, He’d be “flattered” that I remember Him after everything I’ve committed against Him. And as I found myself surrounded by flame, I would be reminded that I was too late.2
Now, that didn’t happen. Let’s talk about the Biblical Book of Job.
Introduction to Job
Job is said to be one of the oldest books of the Holy Bible. I’m pretty sure the Bible Knowledge Commentary3 teaches that the book is probably older than Genesis but doesn’t teach about the timing beyond that. MacArthur’s Study Bible, however, teaches that the book was probably written sometime after the Noahic flood but before or during Abraham’s lifetime. Benware, in Survey of the Old Testament, basically supports that Job lived in this time frame with the exception that he lived before Moses rather than Abraham. This is due to his knowledge of the flood (spoken of in Job 12:15), the endurance of his lifespan, and Job’s priestly position within his “patriarchal” family. His silence on topics like the Abrahamic covenant or the Law of Moses also points to this location in time.
To my surprise, MacArthur suggests that Job, the main character of this segue from historical into the poetic books of the Bible, was not the author of the book! In contrast to Benware, which suggests that Job may have been the author, MacArthur proposes that Moses or even Solomon is more likely to be the author! Moses can be suggested as author because it is supposed that the “land of Uz”, where the story takes place, was a walled city outside of Midian. Although my limited and faded knowledge recalls differently, MacArthur suggests this is where Moses “lived” for forty years before entering the Promised Land, where he may have heard the tale of a man named Job. Solomon was suggested due to the book’s similarities to parts of Ecclesiastes. Although Solomon lived long after Job, just as it is thought that Moses wrote of Adam and Eve, Solomon may have been inspired to write this book.
The prologue tells of a man by the name of Job that was “blameless and upright” and details some aspects of his model life. After revealing a few characteristics of his God-fearing life, we are taken to the Heavenly realm where Satan4 is found doing what he does best. Satan accuses God of treating Job too well; that Job only “turns away from evil” to be reminded of the tremendous life that God has granted him. Sure that Job would not be as obedient if God were to take away his family or his wealth, Satan challenges the Lord. God then accepts the challenge and gives Satan authority over all that is in Job’s possession, so long as he does not harm Job.
In one clean sweep, Job is met not just the news that his wealth had been attacked but also that a mighty wind had caused a structure to implode on all ten of his children. If that happened to me, I’d be outraged! Realistically, if I were in Job’s situation, I’d fall to my knees and immediately curse the Lord and demand to know why it had to happen like the humanistic child I am! Not Job, though! Rather, he falls to his knees and does pretty much the exact opposite: he praises God Almighty. I’ve heard the lesson that you should be content only with your Salvation so that, in the case that everything else is taken away, you will not be shaken but Job’s example (in my opinion) is just not humanly possible.
“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Job 1:22.
When Job does not have the reaction Satan anticipated, he argues that it’s because God still spared Job. Satan, in his perseverance to prove that all humanity would turn on God with good reason, further supports that if Job’s well-being were to be wounded, he’d surely turn from God. Possibly hinting at His enormous trust in the finite being, the Creator grants Satan the permission to threaten Job’s health so long as he does not take his life. Suddenly Job is struck with a terrible case of what the Bible Knowledge Commentary views as “festering boils”5. Even then, Job holds fast to his integrity and does not sin. The next thirty chapters detail the arguments between he and his three guests, followed by five chapters where a fourth guest enters the conversation, ending with four chapters that include God’s response and Job’s restoration.
Y’know, I detail this story because it never made sense to me before now. I used to always wonder why he wouldn’t break as Satan had expected him to. Faced with the same circumstances, I would be immensely outraged. There’d be nothing standing between me and rebellion. I’d ask myself, “why would the Lord treat me this harshly if he didn’t expect me to react?” In all fairness, the Bible details that he did express all the symptoms of grief but even given the death of his children, he worshipped the Lord. Only recently did I come to an adequate suggestion that maybe Job learned to trust in the Lord’s purposes.
After I had just finished studying John 3:16 at the end of “The Cake is a Lie” , I realized where my love for God should come from. See, for about the past year, I had tricked myself into thinking that my love should develop from my obedience. When I studied the original Greek6, I learned that my belief in this biblical doctrine ought to extend to my complete trust. To be honest, I don’t know if this verse tells that I should “completely trust” Him with all areas of my life or just with that one doctrine but it introduced me to a word that I hadn’t given nearly enough attention to: Trust. Regardless, it would make sense to believe that my love for God should spawn from my trust in Him. Then, from that love would come the obedience I so earnestly desire; not the other way around. The four months before then had been spent trying to figure out why any given person would love anybody. I could never figure out an answer because if my love depends on something, my love could conceivably fade.
However, if I bring trust into the equation, it makes a lot more sense. Not to say that trust can’t be broken but it would seem, to me at least, a lot more practical: If Person B says that they love Person A because of the activities they engage in together or the things Person A does for Person B, that sounds selfish and could be easily lost. Although, if Person B were to say that they love Person A because of the trust had in Person A, it sounds a lot more like a reliable relationship.7 That said, in my view, the love is lost once trust is taken out of the equation such as an unfaithful marriage. Still, I already trust God with a lot of my life so why don’t I love Him the same way that I love, say, my best friend?
The difference between these two relationships is the time I spend growing each of them. See, I do plenty of activities with my best friend. We have lunch together, watch movies, spend time with each other, share secrets and discuss life’s issues as opposed to my relationship with God where I barely speak to Him twice a week with the exception of a few thank you notes. You’d think, “Well, gee, Chris. Why don’t you just spend more time with Him?” I don’t know, I really feel kinda alienated from activities like praying or reading the Bible. I mean, I still go to church. A sermon on July 2nd, 2019 really got me thinking. Pastor John Aldex spoke on ensuring children rest assured in Christianity. He described that most children lose their faith in their teens. It got me asking why I remained in the faith.
It wasn’t because of the testimonies that just proved to me that God is alive and working actively in my life. Every testimony so far only proved to me how much God loves me; not how much I love Him. Doubtless, they taught me that I should love God, especially considering how reflective my affinity seems to be toward other people. No, I remained in my faith because I didn’t think I was appreciated or accepted elsewhere. I didn’t think I was useful for anything otherwise. Now, I know that as a matter of fact. What now? Do I just come back to God with my tail in between my legs with big puppy dog eyes and read off the usual script, “I’ve done wrong, please forgive me until I do it again”? Not this time, God. This time, something has to be different. I don’t want to come back only because I know that I should or only to attempt to mimic the love He has for me or because fear tells me that I’m no good otherwise.
Let’s Be Real
If I turn back to follow the Lord, I need to know that it’s something I genuinely want to do. When I read the Bible, I need to know that I’m reading it because I really want to learn from it and not just because I think it’ll allow me strength against my sinful desires. When I pray, I need to know that I’m praying because I actually want to speak to my Heavenly Father and not just because it’s something I know I should do. Otherwise, I’d just be going through the motions like I have for the past eight years and it’s always proved to end the same way. I don’t want to serve God if I’m only trying to earn something that I don’t deserve because that cake is a lie.
1 I was always told that “God had someone special set aside just for me” ever since my desire to attend Bible college and that she would eventually enter my life “at just the right time”.
2 In all seriousness, I have my own view that, to the best of my knowledge, does not argue with Scripture about what happens to nonbelievers when the die; this is not it.
3 The Bible Knowledge Commentary was my primary Bible Study Companion for close to two years after Bible College.
4 “adversary” in the original Hebrew; Job 1, 2
5 cf. Exodus 9:8-11, Deuteronomy 28:27, 2 Kings 20:7; further suggests diagnoses such as smallpox or elephantiasis, even Pemphigus Foliaceus.
6 A friend of mine had been wondering about why going back to the original Greek was useful, so learning about the Greek in each verse became more of an importance of mine.
7 I mean, I’ve never been in a relationship so if this isn’t how it works, deal with it. This is how I understand that it should.
To extend on this rabbit trail, I seem to recall a conversation had with my biological father (in contrast with my Heavenly Father) about relationships. If I remember correctly, he taught me that he wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with somebody he couldn’t trust. Not to intentionally call out my dad, but he actually said that “trust” might be a little too much to ask of a relationship “at my age” or “in my generation” or something like that. This little bit about trust makes sense to me now.