Christians sometimes moan about the times in which we are living. Everything seems to be going from bad to worse. And then it gets worse than it was. We think we live in the worst times that ever were. Christian often wonder why those around us can’t see their need to change the way they are living and thinking. If seems that one of the things missing in our world is real wisdom.
What is wisdom? Some seem to think that wisdom is simply the accumulation of knowledge. The problem with that type of definition is that you can accumulate loads of knowledge and not have wisdom. Wisdom is a quality which one gets that is based on knowledge, experience and good judgement. As a friend of mine has often said, knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit rather than a vegetable; wisdom is knowing you shouldn’t put it in a fruit salad.
In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul talked about wisdom.
“When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony of God. For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling. My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NET)
Notice Paul’s attitude towards wisdom. When he first arrived in Corinth he did not want to impress them with how smart or how wise he was in constructing good arguments. He didn’t want their faith to be based on “human wisdom but on the power of God”. So all he talked to them about was Jesus the Messiah who had been crucified. For people from a Greek or Roman background, that would have been considered weak and ineffective. They would not have seen much wisdom in his message.
But just because they couldn’t see it didn’t make it a worthless message. Just because they couldn’t understand it didn’t make what Paul said devoid of wisdom. It was just a wisdom that they couldn’t understand.
“Now we do speak wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are perishing. Instead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.” God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-10)
If we are expecting to win people over with superior wisdom, Paul is telling us that this won’t happen. A world which has no grasp of what is spiritual is not going to be able to comprehend wisdom that isn’t based on the here and now. As Paul went on to say, “The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
So when we expect the world around us to understand what is wrong with the way they are living, they simply are not going to grasp it. They first need to understand Jesus: who he was, why he came, and what they need to do.
That is why we, as did Paul, need to problem “Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” That is the message those around us need to hear.
Readings for next week: 1 Corinthians 2-6