Yesterday’s emphasis on simplicity does not dismiss the value of wisdom. Wisdom resides in simplicity and in the complex. Our challenge is to understand our readiness for the different manifestations of wisdom. The outpouring of ideas about wisdom to persons whose minds and hearts are unprepared to receive it can be bewildering if not alienating.
Paul’s proclamations to mature persons present a message of wisdom that is sensitive to their preparedness to understand. However, hearers will not understand the message if they interpret wisdom by cultural values that are not God’s values. The capacity to know God’s wisdom, according to Paul, depends upon submitting to and being led by the Spirit of God. Those who are not led by the Spirit interpret God’s wisdom as “foolishness.” In a culture that values domination, sacrificing for others is foolishness. Where identification with people of prestige and influence is admired, living in solidarity with the poor is foolishness. Where avoiding confrontation and discomfort epitomizes happiness, offering oneself to the painful and lengthy work of racial reconciliation is foolishness.
Living the faith requires a commitment to pursue spiritual wisdom despite disparaging social consequences. Becoming spiritually wise involves being in relationship with God’s guiding Spirit. God is ever active in revealing what God wants known. The pursuit of spiritual wisdom is more than the pursuit of ideas about spirituality. Ultimately, the pursuit entails a way of life that responds faithfully to God’s presence and guidance.
Dear God, the pressure to conform to society’s standards of success has hounded us from our earliest days of memory. In these standards we perceive deadly traps and what seem to be promising possibilities for advancing your shalom. The options can be confusing. Help us to discern rightly so that our choices and our lives are aligned with your instruction and your passion for the world. Amen.
According to another counterfeit gospel, our inward convictions about God are enough, so our actions do not really matter. Isaiah chastises his audience for being half-hearted in their religious observance. They ignore the plight of the oppressed and the poor, and by doing so they betray that they do not grasp the heart of God. The psalmist argues that the true faithful are steadfast and generous, and as a result God establishes them and their cause. The understanding of God’s view of the world, Paul writes, must be spiritually discerned, for it opposes the normal thinking of the world. In Matthew, Jesus tells his followers that living faith is shown by bringing flavor and light to the world. Otherwise, our faith is useless to those around us.
Read Isaiah 58:1-12. What can you do to be a foundation of many generations, the repairer of the breach for your community?
Read Psalm 112:1-10. How have you seen God’s blessings abound from your faithfulness? How do you remain faithful when God’s blessings seem absent?
Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-16. Consider the many ways wisdom comes. How do you seek to understand God’s wisdom?
Read Matthew 5:13-20. When does your faith community resist the call to be the salt of the earth and light of the world? How can you transform yourself or those around you to fulfill God’s commandments?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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