Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding – (Proverbs 4:7)
My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment,
do not let them out of your sight;
they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck. – (Proverbs 3:21-22)
The entire book of Proverbs is like a love letter to Wisdom, whom the author personifies as a woman of endless worth. It’s a good book of the Bible. I still prefer Ecclesiastes, but Proverbs has it’s high points as well.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I’ve been spending a lot of my time in meditation about the things that really, really bothered me about church as a teen. This and the book of Proverbs walk hand in hand.
I hate the whole principal of “faith by formula”. I hate the idea that we think we can boil the mysteries of God down to simple equations. I hate the fact that so many pastors and youth leaders buy in to the concept that the journey to God is a set path with predictable markers- because it often means that people who are truly seeking God have their faith killed in the crossfire when they stray off of what people expect their path to be. A kid who realizes he is gay is told that he has a secret sin and his sexuality is a judgment for said sin. A girl who likes dark music is told that she does so because of demonic opression. A boy who feels the spirit of God filling him and comforting him in love is told that he won’t have TRULY felt God until he speaks in tongues. A single mother is told that God doesn’t want her children to be raised without a father- she then feels betrayed by God when relationship after relationship fall apart, and judged horribly when she’s told that she won’t be “allowed” into a relationship until she fixes some sin in herself.
Time and time again hearts are broken and faith is tested not by God, but by God’s people. As the bumper-sticker sarcastically says “I love Jesus- it’s his WIFE that’s the PROBLEM!”.
We are taught that we are to have a “childlike” faith. I don’t believe that childlike faith and blind faith are the same thing. A child believes because it is natural to believe. They expect the best, they are unashamed in their love, they glimmer and glow over the simplest things. To love Jesus as a child would love him means to love fearlessly, with abandon. But a child is not blind or stupid- they will stop to question if they see someone getting hurt. When I punish my son, my daughter will come and try to intercede on his behalf. She asks me why he is crying, if I wanted him to cry, she says she doesn’t care that he hit her, she forgives him, why can’t I forgive him? That is the love of a child- not unquestioning, but DESPERATELY wanting the best for all, happiness for all.
Our faith in God should be the same. We SHOULD question, we SHOULD cry and beg and plead for the souls and happiness of our fellow man. We should not snap to judgment or accept formulas that leave others out in the cold- we should wrestle and struggle with the formulas, we should test and test and test, we should attempt to perfect.
But most of all we should seek wisdom, good judgment and discernment. We should learn to recognize what God’s spirit looks like when it manifests in a way we don’t expect. When the gay man starts crying and professes that he feels God’s love and embrace, we shouldn’t say, “ah, but you won’t TRULY feel God until you stop being gay.” When the single mother says that she is trying to provide a holy and stable life for her kids, we shouldn’t pressure her into marriage and claim we know what life God wants for her, we should walk at her side, protect her from danger, and help to seek and discern God’s individual voice for her life. When the young girl shows her propensity for Gothic music and make-up, we shouldn’t scream “DEMON!”, we should seek to help her find the voice to describe what she’s really experiencing- and if all she’s showing is an artistic taste, let her have it.
The world would be a boring place if life were homogenized into predictable norms.
Like a child, we should crave the excitement that comes from difference and discovery.
And like the writer of Proverbs, we should hunger and thirst for Wisdom the way a young man hungers for a beautiful and perfect woman.