My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God... Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5, 12)
What We Need Is the Wisdom and Power of God
In addressing any of the significant issues of our time - racism, mass shootings, violence against women and children, immigration, the growing disparity between rich and poor, climate change, etc. - we don’t need more opinions or more human wisdom that is divorced from the wisdom of God. No. What we need is the wisdom and power of God.
Paul writes to a rather new Christian community in Corinth - one that he helped found. In a short amount of time, the people there had already divided into factions based on who they liked the best. Paul? Apollos? Cephas? Christ? They were also full of themselves after they have received supernatural gifts of the Spirit from God. They were more focused on their particular gifts than on the common good of the community. (Read 1 Corinthians and you will get the background on all of this.) So, rather early in the letter, Paul starts contrasting the “foolishness of God” with human wisdom and the ultimate “wisdom from God”, which is Christ Jesus. (See 1 Corinthians 1:18-31) Paul goes on to say that he did not come to them “proclaiming the mystery of God... in lofty words of wisdom.” No. He came proclaiming Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-2), and - of course, Christ resurrected.
It is the Spirit that descended upon Jesus at his baptism... the Spirit that drove Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan before he began his ministry... the Spirit that sustained Jesus through his Passion... and the same Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead. And the message of Jesus and the Gospel writers is this: God freely gives that same Spirit to us.
This is the wisdom and the power that we in the world need to be tapping into - the Spirit of God (or the Spirit of Christ).
If we rely on our own wisdom, we are going to quickly fall into sin - either the sin of arrogance or the sin of thinking that we are inadequate or the sin of ego, which revolves around the sin of wanting to be right and thinking that we alone have the truth.
God gives different gifts to the people, partly to remind us that we need each other. We are members of a body, Paul says - the body of Christ - and members of one another. We either get to the Promised Land together - or not at all. If we get there, we are going to discover that Buddhists are there, and Jews, too, as well as Sikhs, Muslims, Baha’is, Mormons, environmentalists, and probably a whole bunch of people who don’t know what they are or whose they are, but recognize the truth that all of us are in this together.
All I know is that right now we need a revival - a revival based in people seeking the wisdom and power of God, a revival based in people living in the Spirit. According to Christian tradition, that Spirit has already been given, and continues to be given.
Whatever issue we are tackling, let’s approach it by seeking the wisdom and power of God. That requires a stance of humility, and an openness to learning that includes a willingness to not only be taught but also corrected by God.
If we try to solve the problems of the world without God’s wisdom, we won’t get there. If we seek God’s help, then all things are possible.