After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. (NIV)
Jesus was not simply sitting and listening. He was asking questions. He was engaged in learning. This was not church. It was Sunday School. It was a LifeLine. It was a small group. The Christian world has diminished the growth process to spending an hour or two each month listening to a preacher/teacher expound upon the great truths of the Scripture. This is good. It’s very good. But the Bible calls for us to seek out wisdom as if it were a hidden treasure. This is imagery that we have missed in our Western, consumer-driven Christianity.
In America, if you want something, you just go and get it. Even as I am writing this, a story has come out in the news where very rich people used their wealth and influence to bribe college officials to give their children preferential treatment. They paid people to take SAT tests for them. And even though they got caught and will more than likely suffer consequences, it is a great picture of our consumer-driven society. If you want something, just go and get it. Use the resources you have and go and get it. Right now, if I wanted some Blue Bell ice cream, I would need to put forth very little effort to get up my from desk, get into my car, and go get some. There are people somewhere that have worked very hard to produce, package, and ship some Blue Bell right near my house. And other people have built a building with a giant freezer to hold this ice cream for me until I am ready to go and get it. Just about everything in our culture is like this. But the Bible is teaching us that wisdom is not like everything else. It is hidden, not easily obtained.
My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding --
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure, (NIV)
We go to church as if we will find wisdom there. We read a Max Lucado book, and we convince ourselves that we will have more wisdom. But there is a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Because of our consumer society, we think wisdom is readily available, but if that was true, would our society be so crazy. Lately, there have been trailers of the television show called The Bachelor. This sort-of good-looking guy is being paid millions of dollars, no doubt, to meet many very beautiful women so that he can choose the one he wants.. But in the trailer, the guy starts crying and wants to get away so badly that he jumps the fence. This launches an intense manhunt for this poor rich, good-looking guy who had other people search the country for the most beautiful and eligible women to marry. Don’t you just feel sorry for the guy. His life is so tough. This is what I mean by ‘crazy.’ If wisdom was readily available like my Blue Bell, people wouldn’t act so juvenile. Have you seen any talk shows lately with crazy people on it?
If wisdom were ice cream, everyone would be wise, make wise decisions, but people are nuts!! We do the craziest, stupidest things.
In our nation, the Bible has had few barriers. There are more Bibles out there, more Christians radio stations, more preachers and teachers on tv than ever before. If wisdom was readily available for the consumer, our world would be different. Knowledge is readily available, wisdom not so much.
Knowledge is knowing what to do, but wisdom is this knowledge applied in a way that changes our morality, perfects our ethics, increases our love. It is the Lord that gives wisdom. It is supernatural. Wisdom removes the blinders placed by our sinful nature. Our eyes are opened. Knowledge makes me aware there is a different path, but wisdom transforms me so that I desire that path.
When we come to church or watch a sermon on television, there is power. The Bible says the Word of God is the breath of God and it powerfully moves and transforms us. Despite this though, the difference between passively listening to the Word and actively asking questions about the Word reveal two different paces in pursuit of wisdom. Like the sloth and the cheetah move at different speeds so listening exclusively moves us slowly, but dialogue is a racing cheetah. Want to find wisdom, it must be pursued in dialogue with other believers and teachers. Accelerate your path to wisdom. Find a LifeLine, Sunday School, or some small group to supplement your listening with questions. Knowledge may be readily available, but wisdom must be sought after passionately.
Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed. (NIV)