Thursday, May 21, 2020

True Wisdom. . .

Sermon for Easter 6A, preached on Sunday, May 17, 2020, by the Rev. Daniel M. Ulrich

              We live in an information saturated world.  There’s almost no limit to what we can know.  Within minutes we can find out what’s happening across the world.  If we have a question, we don’t have to spend hours sifting through books and encyclopedias at the library, all we have to say is “Hey Google.”  We’re constantly getting notifications on our phones and our watches.  From the time we get up to the time we go to bed, information is all around us.  We know a lot about a lot.  Some of this information is good and useful, some of it’s not.  Some of it’s fact, and some of it’s opinion.  And we think, the world thinks, that since we have this vast amount of knowledge that makes us wise.  But does simply knowing stuff make us wise?
               Head knowledge and wisdom aren’t the same thing.  You can know a lot of information, but if you don’t understand how to use it, are you truly wise?  With all the research and data that we have about the human body, today we can’t decide who’s a man and who’s a woman.  With everything we know about reproduction, people still can’t say a baby in the womb is a person.  This is the wisdom of the world.  For the world, wisdom it isn’t based on facts that can be known.  For the world, wisdom is all about feelings.  Feelings are made the most sure and certain thing, even though they change day to day, even hour by hour.  The world’s wisdom says truth is relative, that it’s all a matter of personal opinion.  But if that’s the case, is there any truth at all?  Is there any true wisdom at all? 
               They say history repeats itself, and in many ways, that’s true.  You can always find similarities between cultures and societies today to those in the past.  Today we think we’re wise because of everything we know, just as the Greeks of Paul’s day thought they were wise. 
The Greeks were known to be philosophers.  They thought about things and spent their time discussing new ideas.  And they integrated this knowledge into their lives, into their religion.  As Paul walked the streets of Athens, he saw all sorts of altars set up for worship of different gods.  He even saw an altar built for the “unknown” god.  In the Athenians’’ wisdom, they set up this altar just in case they forgot one.  Best to hedge you’re bets you know.  This seems prudent and wise, but it was false wisdom.  But Paul used this to reveal true wisdom to the Greeks.  
True wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord (Prov 9:10).  True wisdom comes from knowing the God of creation, the One who made the heavens and the earth, and everything in it, including us.  True wisdom is knowing the God who sent His Son to die on the cross and rise from the grave to save us from our sin and death so that we might rise, so that we’d have everlasting life.  True wisdom is knowing Christ our Savior.  But this wisdom it isn’t a matter of head knowledge, it’s a matter of knowing by faith. 
   We can know all the facts about Christ Jesus.  We can know all about His miracles.  We can know everything He taught.  We can know the details of His Passion.  We can know all of that and more, and still not have the true wisdom of faith.  Satan knows the details of Christ.  His demons know about Jesus’ miracles.  Atheist professors who teach Christianity courses at universities know the Bible, and yet they don’t have true wisdom.  True wisdom isn’t just knowing about Jesus, it’s trusting in Him.  It’s trusting in Him for forgiveness.  It’s trusting in His death and resurrection for your life.
You have this true wisdom because it’s been given to you.  You have faith in your Lord because He’s given you His Spirit of truth who dwells within you (Jn 14:17).  He creates your faith and trust.  The Holy Spirit makes your Savior known to you.  He enables you to look to Christ alone for salvation.  And He keeps you in this faith. 
               The wisdom of the world is all around us.  We see it on the TV and in the movies, we read it on the internet.  And too often, we begin to follow this wisdom.  We become accustomed to it.  We believe it.  We even embrace it.  It’s just easier to go along with this falsity then to be ridiculed and called ignorant for holding on to the truth.  But isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?  Aren’t we supposed to give a defense?  Aren’t we supposed to speak the truth of Christ that we know?  Yes we are, even if that means suffering for it.
We often mistakenly think that simply because we’re Christians we won’t have any troubles.  But the truth is just the opposite.  As God’s people we have more troubles.  We suffer everything that everyone else suffers, the normal troubles of life.  But we also suffer the conflict that exists between our sinfulness and the sinfulness of the world and our faith.  This isn’t an easy conflict to bear, and yet we do because we’re not alone. 
Christ hasn’t left you alone to be an orphan.  He’s given you the Spirit of truth who gives you the wisdom of faith.  And it’s with this wisdom that you stand.  It’s with this wisdom that you live and honor your Lord.  You honor Him by speaking His truth with gentleness and respect.  You honor and praise His name as you live according to this truth, as you follow His commandments, showing your love for Him.  All of this may seem ignorant and backward to the world around you, but the world will never understand because it can’t receive the Spirit of truth.
But you have received the Holy Spirit.  You’ve received true wisdom, wisdom that knows your Savior and His life.  By the strength of the Spirit, holdfast to this wisdom in the face of the false wisdom of the world.  Know your Savior, and know the certain hope life that is yours in Him.  In Jesus’ name...Amen.


Paul said...

Wise words!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for an edifying, thought provoking sermon.
Among other things, it made me look into the difference between gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. After more than 80 years of life, your sermon made me think of that for the first time. I discovered that “wisdom” is one of the gifts; “joy” is one of the fruits. Such is the vastness of the Word of God that there is always something new left to discover in it.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart