1 Corinthians 1:27a But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise
You know you are getting old when you begin sentences with: “Back when I was young…”. I might not use those words exactly, but I do spend significant time reflecting on the drastic changes I have seen in my lifetime. Societal norms, such as the definition of the nuclear familiar, which had been fairly consistent across societies for thousands of years, have been questioned and toppled. Definitions of gender, and even life itself (when it begins, who can end it), were once not even debatable in western society, but have now all been thrown on their head. And the societal message that accompanies these changes, is not very subtle: “publicly embrace these changes, or you will be labelled as hateful, phobic, and an ignorant fool”.
I am always surprised to see sports and entertainment celebrities so confidently using their platform to emphatically state what is right. Whether it is informing the public who they must vote for (there is only one logical choice, the other is ignorant), or stating what your position must be on social issues in order to join today’s wise elite. Unfortunately, this approach has caused massive divisions and a polarization of views that I have never seen before. I don’t see much wisdom in calling people stupid for having contrary views, rather than having reasoned and respectable dialogue. While you may not receive the same in return, the scriptures say: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18).
How do you traverse this difficult world? First, as Christians, it is important to recognize that “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). In fact, if you look at the time Jesus and his disciples lived, it was far from a godly time. In one corner you had a very harsh Roman ruler (public beatings, floggings and even executions were commonplace), in another corner the Greeks who felt they had a monopoly on wisdom, and in the other you had a wicked Jewish ruling class who unrighteously lorded over the Jewish people. All these groups were “wise in their own eyes”, very much like those with public platforms today. In Isaiah 5:21 God warns: “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”
While issues and discussions seem complex today, God continually tries to simplify matters. On the matter of wisdom, we know that: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7). Step one involves getting off my high horse and recognizing that I know very little; my wisdom is nothing compared to the God of the universe who created me; this requires being humble. Step two is recognizing that I’m not left on my own to figure this out. When I am struggling, I go to the Word of God because I know that “[His] word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105). I also go to God in prayer and desperately ask him for increased wisdom, recognizing that if my heart is right, he will answer that prayer (James 1:5). We are also called to live within a community of believers (Hebrews 10:25), also called the local church, and if we are attending a church which honors the Word of God, then you should have leaders and mature Christian friends who can point you to the scriptures to find your answers. If you choose to “figure it out on your own”, then you run the risk of being nothing more than “wise in your own eyes” a.k.a “foolish”. If, however, you humbly reach out to God using the resources he has given you, then you can become “wise in HIS eyes”.