Beyond “Wisdom”

“Help! Rape!”  My little boy eyes bulged as wide as yo-yo’s as I read the damp message I’d found in a bottle, floating in the lake.  I knew it was something bad, but back then, little boys were not taught much about rape, or even sex.  I had no recourse but to ask my mother what it meant.  I laugh to think back on that moment, the look on her face, because she would have been profoundly uncomfortable if I’d asked her what necking was!  She went through a few inarticulate false starts and then informed me that rape meant “misbehavior.”  Aha!  New information, I thought.  I hurried over to my brother to impress him with my advanced knowledge and wisdom.  “I know what rape means,” I proclaimed.  “Really?”  “Yes,” I said, drawing myself up to my full, second grade stature, “it means misbehavior!”   That was a moment of great pride for me.   That is, until I began to realize how incomplete my lofty wisdom really was.

There have always been people who think they know it all, who draw themselves up and make proclamations based on the fullness of their great wisdom.  God laughs.  In their wisdom they have been blinded to some of the most basic elements of reality.  So Paul wrote:

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,”.  (1 Corinthians 3:18-19)

Every year about this time, as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, we hear from the “wise” who consider us foolish. They draw themselves up and proclaim how ludicrous it is to believe in a God Who would allow His Son to be tortured, and how naive it is to think He could have been restored to life.  Which is tragic, because Jesus endured that torment out of love for them, to rescue them.  And they cannot see it.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”  –  (1 Corinthians 1:18-19)

Before you bet your life on the wisdom of those who sound smug, consider the difference between what it means to be “perishing” and “saved.”  No doubt, there were some experts on the Titanic who knew it was folly to think such a ship could go down.  After all, it had been designed by the best engineers to prevent such a thing.  If only they had been able to see beyond their own wisdom…    Just possibly, the God of the Universe knows a bit more than those who think they are wise here on earth.

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