Wisdom cries out in the street;
in the squares she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?”
Proverbs 1:20-22 (NRSVA)
Looking at the world around us today, both here in the UK and across the globe, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to say that wisdom seems to have done a bunk.
Despite the wealth of historical and cultural knowledge available, violence and division continue to mar the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Despite there being more than enough materials on earth for everyone to have what they need, millions continue to be without the necessary food, water, shelter, vaccines, medications and equipment they need to live a full and healthy life.
Despite the realities of personal and institutional racism staring us in the face, people continue to experience discrimination and oppression either at the hands of those who hate them, or those who don’t understand them, and despite the necessary tools and steps being visible to us, the whole planet continues to suffer from irreversible climate change.
One interpretation is that, in light of the constant failure
of humanity to follow the ways which God sets out for us, God has given up on
us. We’ve been told what we have to do, given stories and parables, examples
and illustrations, encouragements and commandments, yet, time and again, we
have failed to live up to what God asks of us, and so only have ourselves to
blame for all we see around us.
But the thing is, it’s not God who is being depicted in this passage as shouting out at passers-by with derision. It’s ‘Wisdom’. God, and the promises of hope, life and salvation, are always with us, ready to strengthen and guide us in God’s ways of justice, peace and love for all people.
However, it is us who must choose to use them, if we are to play our part in building God’s vision of the world over the chaos which we see around us, and for that, we need wisdom. We need the wisdom to realise that fulness of life begins with prioritising the most vulnerable over those who have the most, the wisdom to see that the end of division begins with our love for neighbour, whether we know them or not, whether we understand them or not, whether we like them or not. We need the wisdom to see that sacrifices to protect the environment now will benefit generations to come, even if we won’t live to see it.
The service of God in Mission, and the wisdom we must wield
if we are to do so, is certainly not an easy path to follow, and yet it is the
path that leads to joy and fulfilment, inclusion and belonging, life and equity
beyond our imagination. We must be willing to help each other in grasping the
wisdom God places before us, that all might hear the call to live the life of
Jesus today, recognising and allowing God’s presence within us to make this reality
the place God intends it to be.
God is always with us, but are we always with God? May we,
and all those we love be able to say with confidence, “Yes, Lord.”
In every thought we have,
in every word we say,
in every task we perform,
in every question we ask,
in every decision we make,
in every encounter we experience,
may we be wise enough to know that you are with us, calling
us to be your people in the world, feeding the hungry, tending to the sick,
breaking down the barriers and protecting your creation.
If not our hands, then whose? If not now, then when?
Be with us now in our work, that it may be only for your
glory and the realisation of your vision.
These things we ask in your name.