Daily Proverbial, from Ecclesiastes, 21 September 2012

All this I tested by wisdom and I said, “I am determined to be wise” — but this was beyond me. Whatever wisdom may be, it is far off and most profound — who can discover it? So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly. Ecclesiastes 7, verses 23 – 25.

The stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly. Those words are 3000 years old yet isn’t it true that they’re more relative and applicable now than seemingly any other time in most of our lifetimes? Our world is on fire and large, fearsome change seems at hand. The Middle East is (literally) aflame and getting worse every day. War is at hand there and when it comes it will be devastating to the entire world. The US economy is in tatters and is getting worse, not better. Once we descend into the abyss of debt default and stagflation, a worldwide depression is likely to ensue with the outcome of it being terrifying.. The allied relationships that have kept relative peace in the world for the last one hundred years are fraying and who knows what, if anything, can be done to repair them or even forge new ones?

Illiteracy, disbelief and atheism, soaring rates of worldwide poverty, extreme government corruption and business cronyism, apathetic citizenry, violent crime, gang ‘family’ and violence, the threat of nuclear annihilation, general leadership incompetence, hyper inflation, and Jersey Shore (or Honey Boo Boo): what’s to blame? The stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.

Sure, there’s enough blame to go around for anyone who has somehow touched the problem but assigning blame (or even understanding the impact of wickedness and folly) doesn’t answer the question: what are we going to do about it? We could continue the status quo, but that’s the kind of thing that’s gotten us to where we are now. We could institute radical change but that is a dangerous prospect. We could do nothing but the problems can’t be ignored.

The best place to start is by having a little faith. Take it to God, no matter how big the problem. Take it to the man upstairs and ask for wisdom, His wisdom. By relying on human wisdom only, we are setting ourselves up for failure as the first verse of today implies. The last one hundred years alone were replete with examples of how millions died when we relied on human wisdom alone. We can be determined to be wise, sinless, intelligent, upright, or whatever you like, but without involving God it simply won’t work. In relying on human wisdom, evil comes more naturally. When Christ said “apart from me you can do nothing,” He wasn’t kidding. No matter the challenge facing us, we need involvement from above.

Who can discover God’s wisdom? That’s the next challenge the verse presents. You and I aren’t God. Only one man in all of history was fully man – complete with all temptations of the flesh including the free will to resist them – and fully God – complete with all power to resist those temptations by demonstrating his true and grace-filled love. You and I aren’t Him. All the hope and change in the world won’t change that hopeful fact. Who can discover God’s wisdom? We aren’t God and we can’t ever be God, can’t even ever be ‘like’ God. What we are is humans, gifted by God with His inspired Word in, among and through our very lives. Apart from Him we can do nothing; living in Him, we can do everything, including discover His wisdom. We won’t be the authors of it, but we can be the living embodiments of it.

And when we begin to look at all things in life through the lens of God’s knowledge, we see that looking at things in a human vein simply doesn’t measure up. I love learning; I have three college degrees to prove that. All three of them are mostly worthless. I imagine standing before God one day and telling Him, “look, Lord, I earned associates, bachelors and masters degrees (maybe even that doctorate).” I think His response could be when He puts his arm around me and says, “that’s nice, son, but do you love Me?” Science is a wonderful thing to discern how God’s nature here functions, to learn the physical makeup of things. Since we are sentient beings, though, we know – we believe – that we are also beings of spirit, more than just physicality. Do you love me? That’s the most profound question you can ask or be asked. Do you love someone? Do you love your parents, your children, you significant other, your job, your life? Do you love God? You say yes; we all do. Here’s the challenge: scientifically prove it. Prove love. Not the fruits of love, or the evidence of its existence; not the things that describe love or show what love does: prove love.

I’ll cordially wish you ‘good luck’ with that. As a matter of the heart– of your spirit – you won’t be able to without considering God. You want to prove love? Take a close look at the cross.

And when we see that, I think the difference between love and that stupidity / madness becomes clear. Without God, ALL of life is stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly. Apart from Him we really can do nothing. Within him are knowledge and peace.

Today is the last day of summer. I can explain to you the specifics of the autumnal equinox, and the meteorological impact of the coming season. We can together learn about the dormancy of plants and animals in the northern hemisphere this year as well as the renewing and coming back of things in the southern. There are physiological changes that occur in all animals because of the impact of season, planetary inclination upon an axis, and proximity to the sun. Here again I imagine I hear the kind, understanding voice of God: “that’s nice, son, but do you love Me?” Consider that love as we close out the summer and transition into fall.

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