The Call of Wisdom
May 22, 2016
Rev. Michael A. Trask
Wisdom: It is something everybody wants. To have wisdom is to know what to do and what to say in whatever circumstance that presents itself. Wisdom is to keep your cool; to rise above; to be the adult. Wisdom allows you to be master of your situation. But wisdom is something of a rare commodity; elusive even.
Meanwhile, foolishness abounds. A simple reading of the history of the world reveals great gaping wounds on the story of humanity, wounds brought about by the foolishness of man. And if that seems too distant, think through your own extended family. Most of us have suffered in some way from the foolishness of those we must call our kin. We worry about what genetics we might share with them. We hope we will not pass the idiot gene on to our children. But if we are honest, each of us are given to moments of foolishness. There are things that we have done that we cannot reverse or fix. Things that may even to this day affect and infect our lives with trouble.
For example, I injured my back doing something foolish when I was twelve. As I did it, I knew my mother and Father would not approve. Knowing they wouldn’t approve just made it more enticing. Once or twice a year, this old injury asserts itself in painful spasms that prevent me from doing but laying in bed and recalling my foolish deed of years gone by. I curse my stupidity. There are many other foolish things that I have done, which I prefer not to talk about at this time. Just as you, would prefer not to stand up and talk about the stupid stuff that you have done. My point is we would all love to be more wise.
Okay then, where do we have to go to acquire wisdom? The customary answer is that wisdom is gained by many years of education. And yet, there are highly-educated people, people who have spent a lifetime in school who do and say very foolish things. While education is indeed quite valuable and can equip someone to accomplish much, it is completely wasted one someone who is foolish. It is possible to have multiple degrees and still make a foolish mess out of one’s life.
Well then what about the other thing? What about experience? Experience is another form education. Instead of in books and on paper, it’s real-world. When you experience the real world you can become more adept at living in it. But still, it’s possible to have oodles of experience only to use the knowledge you have gained incorrectly and foolishly. We’ve all known highly experienced people who have everything going for them, yet they tear apart their own lives. Like a formal education, the education of experience seems to offer wisdom, but wisdom is something something additional, something elusive and hard to grasp.
But In Proverbs 8, our Old Testament lesson for today, It begins by asking “Does not wisdom Call?” Is it not there in the crossroads, at the gates in the front the town.” Wisdom is not in hiding, but rather in plain sight. Not only that it’s calling out to people. And then we go on to learn in this text that wisdom is everywhere evident and everywhere around us. It’s in the shape of the mountains and in the way the seashore blends into the land. It’s in the skies, it’s in the air. It’s in us. The wisdom of God is clearly seen in creation. We depend on it everyday for our existence. Everything in our bodies works. Everything in the earth works. Everything works together to make life possible.
Wisdom; wisdom of God. If you care to look, you will see it. If you care to see it, You will acknowledge him. Or you can refuse. It astounds me that there are highly educated people who would rather believe that all this was ultimately a product of an explosion. Hearts are so hardened that they cannot admit that the human body in all of it’s excellence is a good idea, nope it’s a product of randomness. They cannot see the wisdom of it because they don’t want to.
And in this we are really getting at the heart of what prevents wisdom. Man is on the outs with God. Ever notice how when you get in a heated argument with someone you can actually get quite stupid. You’ll grasp at straws…. and it will be obvious to everyone there that you have a super weak argument…..but you will hold to it… you’ll insist on it with all that is in you because you so want to prove yourself right. This is what we are seeing today. Logic and reason are out the window. The truth doesn’t matter, just winning. Whoever can shout the loudest or can get the most people to shout whatever they are shouting wins.
This is kind of what’s going on with Man and God. God says, “Hey, you broke my law?” And man starts yelling and yelling and yelling. And applauding those who yell and giving hearty approval and congratulations to anyone who breaks the law of God.
We’re now at the nth stage of the argument and man is getting all pouty and saying “You do not exist to me any more God!” Even though the wisdom of God is calling out from everything that is made, man cannot see it. He is in the midst of a hot argument and he’s being stupid; he’s dug in his heals He’s not going to give one ounce of credibility to God because that would then mean that God is right and we’re wrong.
David Says in the psalms: “ A fool has said in his heart that there is no God.” That’s the definition of a fool (Ps. 14:1) We see that here. As it turns out, foolishness begins with the rejection of God and his Law. Remember when I was talking about how I hurt my back, and how was enticed to do the foolish thing that hurt me by the thought that my mother and father would not approve. Disobedience of parents: that’s sin; a violation of God’s law. Sin leads otherwise intelligent people into the hurting of themselves. The desires of a sinful heart is what makes us foolish.
If that is what foolishness is, what is wisdom? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” says solomon in chapter 9 of proverbs. To fear God means to admit that he is right when he says we are sinful…. and justified when he makes judgments against us. And we can now do this because in jesus we know that the punishment for our disobedience is not going to be visited upon us, for it was visited upon him.
This singular event of self-sacrifice affords us the profound opportunity to openly confess our sins and be forgiven…….And that, my friends is when wisdom begins. In Jesus, we are united with the one who put the clockworks of the universe in motion.. In Jesus our hearts can be synchronized with our our wise creator. Thus we live more wisely.
In his first letter to the Corinthians chapter 1 Paul writes “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God….Christ the power of God and Christ the wisdom of God.” He was the wisdom behind creation who has now entered creation once again to reassert wisdom upon us. His cross and empty tomb were a new act of creation: Dying, decaying, people who were returning to dust would be given life again. He would send forth his Spirit and breath into our nostrils the breath of life causing to respond to God not with anger and denial but with faith.
Yes, we have indeed been foolish, that is we have been sinners, but in Christ we are seeing the return of wisdom. For in him we are free to return to a right relationship with God because there remains no argument between us. That was settled by Christ on calvary’s mountain. So now, our wisdom can grow.
Every Sunday, together we get together on our knees and confess that we have sinned against God. We confess our failure to love. We confess our inability to love. As the world sees us doing this they think we are debasing ourselves; beating ourselves up. The reality is we are being lifted up…we are being re-created. We have been given the right to set aside our foolishness and receive wisdom in Christ. AMEN