Monday, August 20, 2012

the school of faith: wisdom

we started a new sermon series at Catawissa Avenue UMC yesterday, one that will continue through the next 3 weeks, and end with an exciting celebration of our newly revamped sunday school program.  the series is called "the school of faith" and is a essentially a reminder of the critical importance for continued education in our faith journeys, particularly by meeting with other Christians to study the Bible. 

we started yesterday by talking about wisdom; by defining the term as separate from common sense, knowledge, or street smarts.  wisdom is not what you know.  wisdom is not the ability to function well in society. wisdom is not being able to figure out tricky riddles.  wisdom is not an old bearded wizard living on a mountain in seclusion.  wisdom is what you do with what you know.  wisdom is building a house on a firm foundation.  wisdom is the exercise of remembering what you have learned, committing to learning new things and then asking yourself that all important question:  how then shall i live? 

paul challenged the young church in ephesus to have wisdom, and to "make the most of the time" (eph. 5:15-20).  and so the question that is begged by paul's passage is an obvious one:  am i making the most of the time?  am i living wisely, or as one who content with common sense (remember, common sense is simply "sense" or "understanding" that is common to a group of people.  it is a kind of shared thinking that is valuable for making sure that a group of people get along and agree on certain behaviors, but it also has led to the kind of unhelpful groupthink that once declared the world as flat, slaves as less than human, and women worthy of burning as witches if they so much as wore black.)? 

the challenge is that each of us make the most of the time we have.  we must live wisely.  we must remember what we've learned, continue to learn more, and apply the things we learn in our living.  that is wisdom.  wisdom is not about being the smartest christian in the church, it is about being the one who is willing to give it a try.  it is about application.  it is about living your lessons. 

and the best way to stay on the path of wisdom is to pray for it (whoever lacks wisdom just needs to ask God for it and believe that it will come, says james), to study God's word (privately AND with a group), and to practice it.  simple as that.  just remember that when you pray for wisdom, God will likely answer that prayer by engaging you in the process.  contrary to the way we sometimes act, prayer rarely results in some sort of magic pixie dust being sprinkled down upon us from heaven.  instead, prayer is way of opening us to new possibilities, new ways of seeing how God might work in us.  when we pray for wisdom, we may find that God is providing opportunities for us to grow in knowledge, in understanding, and in opportunities for applying it, but we have to be willing to take those opportunities.  we must make the most of our time. 

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