On wisdom

More scars and hopes soon.

For now, there’s something burning away and eating at me; actually it’s feeling a little more corrosive than that, it’s more acidic. I’m more than a little concerned as to what will happen if I don’t something about it. Thing is, I don’t know what to do. I need wisdom to know what’s best here.

You see, it’s to do with wisdom. We know wisdom isn’t the same as knowledge, and there’s a lot of talk about it in the Bible – especially the Old Testament. Many of us will have had dear saints exhort us in hushed tones to ‘be wise’ with our money or relationships or prayers or dreams or decisions. We’ll have heard their advice and nodded humbly, and maybe changed our decisions because we know wisdom is something that often comes with age and experience.

I don’t mean to decry this. I don’t mean to say that this advice wasn’t good or helpful or … wise. But it’s making me uneasy.  I fear we may have domesticated wisdom, de-clawed it; made it safe and acceptable and sensible. I fear true wisdom is unwise by my own standards.

So often we say that saving money is wise; that trusting those proved trustworthy is wise; that doing the less risky thing is wise; that the way of least offence or greatest consensus is wise.

Are we sure?

We know Solomon was so very wise; he asked God for wisdom and God gave it to him. The example of that we’re given in the Bible is when he ordered a baby to be cut in half, in an age when disobeying or questioning or hesitating over the king’s words would mean death.

Cutting a baby in a half.

I’ve read reports – apocryphal maybe – that ISIS do that to Christian babies.

And we say that’s wisdom when it’s in the Bible, blessed with the convenient get-out that he didn’t have to go through with it. Viewed from inside the story, it’s much more scary. He’d have to have been willing to do it for it to mean anything; and it was an order that came with no guarantees of success, of flushing out the truth. It was a terrible, awful risk.

Jesus embodied wisdom, of course. So he overturned tables, created chaos in the temple and allowed himself to be manipulated into death.

And we say that’s wisdom.

He chose 12 close followers, all of whom abandoned him and one of whom betrayed him.

And we say that’s wisdom.

God’s wisdom is beyond our understanding , and he welcomes me into His family when I daily choose to do my own thing and ignore what He says is best.

And we say that’s wisdom.

Jesus dies violently for people who hate Him.

And we say that’s wisdom.

Wisdom.

Have we neutered it, rendered it sexless, incapable of reproducing? Have we infected its DNA, making it manageable and harmless? Have we made it the preserve of grey-haired Gandalf figures who never go on an adventure, never really do anything but are roundly praised for their sense and sobriety?

I fear we have.

What have we lost by doing so? What dreams lie un-lived, what lives unsaved, what problems remain problems due to ‘wise’ courses of action?

Wise appears never to be safe, never seems to carry with it a guarantee of trust repaid or reward received; it doesn’t seem to care for results or efficiency or economics or appearance. The Good Samaritan was terribly unwise to stop by the roadside, to linger over a prone body in place where violent criminals were known to operate. Jesus ate with people of ill-repute, trusted people who gave precious little evidence of ever repaying the trust. The New Testament is largely written by a man who institutionalised the murder of Christians.

Wisdom, then. We are invited to it, knowing it will wound us and disappoint us and play merry hell with our reputation. It will ruin us but it will make us. It will wreck careers and bank accounts and retirement plans and it may just save the world.

Are you in?

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