Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Got Wisdom?

Dear Friends,

I came home from church one Sunday and found a car parked next to my driveway. I got out to unlock my gate and saw a woman standing outside the car and talking on her phone. I couldn’t see her face but heard her making some odd choking noises that sounded as if she was crying. I asked her if she was okay or if she needed any help. As it turned out, she was laughing and talking with her mother and seeing my black clerical shirt with the white collar, she told her mom that she needed to talk with a priest and she’d call back. 

She was an extroverted Hispanic woman in her mid-thirties with one of those bright and lively personalities. And she wanted to talk. She had grown up in the San Fernando Valley but now lived near downtown Los Angeles. She’d been raised Catholic but left the church as a teenager because she didn’t like always being made to feel “badly about herself.” She said she was spiritual and believed in God and Jesus but had not found a church liberal and inclusive enough to fit into her religious beliefs. She had friends who were urging her to join the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but she felt that she had more in common with Buddhists who she’d been hanging around with lately. She asked me what I thought she should do. I asked her what she thought about the Bible, she said, “Well, everyone has a book they believe in and they’re all good.” In answer to my next question, she told me she’d never read the Bible.

As she talked, it was apparent that she was taking the God from the Catholic Church of her childhood, adding a pound of Oprah’s new age teachings, a generous scoop of Buddhism, a bushel of her own feelings and thoughts about how life should be, an ounce of Jehovah’s Witness doctrine, a sprinkling of some Hindu deities and forming those ingredients into a “faith” that fit her liberal progressive politics. She had invented her own custom religion and was trying to find a church that would support and validate these scattered and unfocused beliefs. She was compassionate, inquisitive and obviously very intelligent, but she was struggling with her spirituality because it had no foundation based on God’s Word. She longed for God but was at a spiritual crossroads in her life and was paralyzed with indecision. I told her that she needed “wisdom.”

Without wisdom, our life is an unholy mess. Without God’s wisdom, our life is ordered and ruled by customs, traditions, our friends, and what we see in the news media and our social media. 1 Cor 3:18-19 When our life is a mess it’s sometimes because we are rebelliously “doing what seems right in our own eyes.” Judges 21:25 And of course that never turns out well because God’s plan for us is that we do what is right in His eyes. And that leads us right into the biblical definition of wisdom.

Biblical wisdom is the “ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding of God and His will for us.” There are three parts to that definition. Godly wisdom allows us to accurately discern the truth and gives us the ability to judge correctly. Wisdom reveals the best course of action to take. Isaiah 28:29 And, wisdom is the knowledge and understanding we have of God based on His Word to us. Biblical wisdom is never the end result of twisting scripture in order to fit it into our politics or cultural correctness. Wisdom means acting according to God’s will for us and not looking for an ambiguity or an easy out. Biblical wisdom is having the knowledge and understanding to recognize the right course of action and having the will and courage to follow it.

We gain knowledge and wisdom through study of God’s Word. There is no other way. Praying for God’s wisdom without studying His Word is as foolish as praying that you will do well on your DMV written test and never reading the driver’s handbook. Through the grace of God, His wisdom is available to everyone who reads their Bible. Proverbs 2:6

I told the woman that she would find the answers to her questions about her spiritual beliefs in the Bible. I reminded her that she’d told me all religious books are good and said, “Mohammad wrote dozens of verses in the Qu’ran, that all Jews and Christians must be mutilated or killed. Jesus said, and what His disciples wrote in the Bible, are that we are to love the unbelievers – the people that Muslims would call the “infidels.” I asked her, “Which would you say is the good book? The Bible or the Qu’ran?” She didn’t answer me. I said, “Based upon what a magician named Joseph Smith wrote in the Book of Mormon, all black people are cursed by God because of their skin color. Many Mormons today still teach and believe that blacks are an inferior race that sided with the devil against God.” She looked down at the ground. I told her, “The Bible says that in God’s eyes all are created equal. Would you say that the Bible or the book of Mormon is the good book?” I said, “You’re right that all religions have a book they follow, but not all books will take you to the God that you seek.” 

I asked her to wait and I went into my house and got one of the easy to read New Living Testament bibles that our church gives to new believers. When I handed it to her, I said, “Do you think it’s a coincidence that God stopped you in front of my driveway to talk with your mother at the same time, I came home?” She smiled, told me “No” and promised me she’d read the Bible. I can only hope and pray that she did because all the wisdom and all the answers that she will ever need for her life are right there in that one good Book. Proverbs 19:8  Amen?

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