Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 156: II Chron 16-19; Psalm 126; I Corinthians 1

Of Human Wisdom
One of the hardest of lessons to learn in life lies in understanding that being certain of anything opens you up to the inevitable, eventual certainty of being wrong. Eventually, we will all wind up playing the fool. Even when it comes to the life of faith, it is remarkable how often God makes use of us out of our own foolishness when we would really prefer for ego's sake to be on the side of knowing, being and being seen to be....right. Human wisdom is a beautiful thing, but it is also a dangerous thing for us when we become too reliant on it. Wisdom is not infallible, and in fact the wisest people I know are the ones to profess the deepest awareness of their own ignorance.

Why then, do we wind up getting caught up in being right? Why do we put so much stake in having our opinion be the opinion adopted by the group? Because that sort of certainty offers a feeling of security. Even though that feeling is an easily-dispersed illusion, we still look for it's reassurance. The world makes more sense. At least, it makes more (self-justifying) sense to us.

It remains in God's agency, though, to not only remind us that we cannot assume certainty of the world in such a way, but also that our release of expecting to have a handle on all things is a folly that can be turned into a teaching moment for ourselves and all those around us. Provided we are open to the experience, that eventuality is grace itself. Ignoring it, or rejecting it, means risking peril and even in some cases personal or corporate destruction.

Today's lessons open us up to seeing misplaced certainty in human wisdom as God does, as a gateway to God being active in our lives as a correction, a lever for personal and corporate reconciliation. Poor Ahab winds up dying from a random arrow wound after the misadventure he and Jehoshaphat get caught up in as they dance the dance of the hubris of kings. The psalmist rejoices in God's mercy as a population of refugees are brought home and restored by God's grace...the very object of releasing human expectations of deliverance for God's imminent grace.

Finally, we embark on the "great harangue" of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. This community is full of people who are not only certain that they are wiser than their immediate neighbor, but that also they have a better handle on what "church" should look like that God in Christ himself. This letter explicitly reminds us that human wisdom is foolishness to God...and that God's foolishness, and weakness, are greater than any strength or wisdom we could possibly express. It is Paul's way of saying to them, and to us, simply, "Get your head right. Set down your pride and certainty. Open yourself up to the wonder of what God can do. Lean back into that true knowledge which abandons certainty and embrace the infinite possibility of what a life of faith in Christ can really do...."

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