Wisdom or Foolishness?

Enrollment in degree-granting post-secondary school institutions increased by 15 percent between 1992 and 2002. And in the ten years following that, enrollment increased an additional 24 percent, from 16.6 million to 20.6 million.

We are quickly becoming the most highly educated society in history. Just think about it. That’s not to mention all the resources available to us to gain knowledge on our own — resources like modern libraries, seminars, conferences, and especially the internet.

Sadly, much of this modern education exalts various forms of humanism. It holds that human thought and wisdom is all there is, and really all that is needed. It’s a full-on embrace of human reason and the things that human reason can produce — so much so that humanists typically have little need for God.

Paul dealt with the same struggle 2000 years ago — long, long before modern universities and the internet. Greeks exalted knowledge, wisdom and human inquiry. We still refer to the “Socratic Method” as great instructional methodology.

Certainly, Paul had no great beef with learning. He was a very learned man himself, perhaps one of the most learned of his day.

But he did put human reason in perspective. To Paul, human reason makes a great servant, and a lousy master. We can use our reason all we want in the service of God. Reason is a great tool to bring glory to God.

But once our human reason — the wisdom of this world — exalts itself over God’s reason that’s when the problems begin. When our human logic demands precedence and control over the revealed knowledge of God, then we soon find ourselves moving away from God. We are already on the way to being separated completely from our trust in God.

Why go that direction, Paul inquires. The important things are already ours, he emphasizes. Jesus is ours. And we are his. And that makes us God’s.

To put a slight twist on words Jesus once spoke, it’s really just foolishness to gain the knowledge of the whole university (or the whole internet, even), and forfeit your soul.

“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’ So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God” (1 Corinthians 3:18-23, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Friday, August 7, is 1 Chronicles 24:1 – 26:19, 1 Corinthians 3:1-23 and Psalm 92:1-15.

Lord, grant me your divine wisdom and knowledge. Help me to set aside my own human wisdom and logic and humbly realize that these make great servants, but lousy masters, for my heart and mind. I want to have the mind of Christ, because I want to be of Christ. Help me, Lord!

Header image based on "Harvard" by angela n., CC By 2.0

Broadcasting Repentance

Once Jesus settled into a base of operations in Capernaum, he began to do what he came to do: broadcast the news. And the news that he came to broadcast was not the evening news. (Thank goodness. Have you ever noticed how relentlessly bad the evening news can be?)

The news Jesus came to announce was very good news. The news was that he is the Light of the world and Life to those living under the shadow of death (Matthew 4:16).

As the light and life of the world, Jesus had wisdom that needed to be heard. But to be received this wisdom would require a change of mind on the part of people.

By nature, people’s minds are not on a receptive track, as Moses clearly indicates in the book of Genesis: “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5, NIV).  

Jesus wants to get people back on track, receptive to God and to God’s loving plans for them. And he knows that getting on track begins with the fear of the Lord: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7, NIV).

So what’s the best characterization of Jesus’ teaching? Matthew tells us what it is: Changed minds. Changed hearts. Changed lives.

Repentance, in other words. Receptiveness. Because when Jesus comes near, his kingdom comes near, too. That’s why wise people tune in when Jesus is broadcasting.

“From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near'” (Matthew 4:17, NIV). 

Lord, change my mind and heart. Make me receptive to you and your wisdom. Get me back on track by shining the great light of your salvation into every corner of my mind and heart. May listening to you give me a repentant mind and heart. You are my Savior. You are my Lord. You are my light and my life.

Our reading for Sunday, January 4, is Genesis 7:1 – 9:17, Matthew 4:1-22 and Proverbs 1:1-7.

Header image based on "Radio" by Godber, CC by-SA 2.0