Sunday, January 30, 2011

God's Wisdom

Who has God all figured out? Who understands God’s wisdom? Who has life figured out? Let's see a show of hands. Really, there are that many?

There was a time when I thought I had everything completely figured out. I knew what my purpose in life was. I knew what I was going to do with my life. I just knew that it was all part of a master plan and it was all going to be fine.

I soon discovered that I didn't know anything for certain. And I still don't. I used to believe that if I kept all the laws, the Ten Commandments, that God would bless me. Then I found out that wasn’t right either.

So, what is God's wisdom? And are we ever going to be able understand it? Has anyone ever figured it all out? I hope you're not expecting to hear all the answers from me this morning, because I for sure don't have it all figured out.

Friends, all I know for certain is what I've read in the Word, the very same Word you heard read this morning.

The prophet Micah was preaching to the people about how they had made such a mess of things by not living as God had directed them to live that they were going to be disciplined and they weren't going to like it. He asks a rhetorical question that says, “What can I bring with me when I come before the Lord, when I bow before God on high?

Should I come before him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with a thousand male sheep? Will he be pleased with ten thousand rivers of oil?

Should I give my first child for the evil I have done? Should I give my very own child for my sin?" And Micah replies, “God has told you what you need to do. Do what is good. Be kind to your neighbors. Live humbly and obey God.”

How many of us can honestly say we’ve been successful in doing all these things? No one I would imagine. I know I haven't.

And that brings us to the lesson from Matthew where Jesus took his disciples up on top of the hill and taught them. The lessons he taught them probably weren't what they expected to hear. Shoot, they're not what we really expect to hear either.

Jesus climbs the mountain followed by those he had chosen to be his disciples. He sits down, gets himself all set and then he opens his mouth. The words that he speaks aren’t what any of them expected. The poor are blessed? The hungry are blessed? The lost are blessed? How can being in any of those situations be a blessing?

Think back to the last paragraph from last week’s gospel lesson. What was Jesus doing? Matthew said that Jesus healed people of all their ailments, physical, mental, and emotional. As word got around people from all over the region were bringing their friends, their neighbors, and their relatives to Jesus to be healed; some just by touching the hem of Jesus’ robe. Jesus saw so many folks who were beaten and battered by their health, by the world, even by their own religious leaders and he blessed them.

Because of everything he was seeing, every person he touched, he knew that he had to teach his disciples how to care for these folks when he wasn’t here to do it anymore.

Now tell me, who do you think of when you think of someone who is blessed? Does a homeless person living on the streets in Omaha come to your mind immediately? Do you picture someone who has just lost a loved one to cancer as being blessed? No.

We think those who are blessed as those who have won the lottery or have made wise investments with their money. Those who are blessed are those who have beautiful mansions and fancy cars and maybe retire early so they can enjoy their golden years. These are the people we think are blessed, not those others.

But Jesus says they are the ones who receive the blessings. How does that work? Where’s the wisdom in that?

Paul says that the teachings about the cross are foolishness to those who don’t know the Christ. But God chose to do it that way. What the old order had been doing wasn’t bringing anyone closer to the kingdom of God. So God chose to do it differently. He died on a cross for us so we could be saved. He blesses those who are down on their luck. He blesses those who are suffering. And he asks us to bless them by offering them a hand, caring for their needs, and loving them as God’s children no matter what. God blesses those who stand up for the poor, the homeless, and the oppressed. God blesses those who speak up for them even when it’s not the popular thing to do.

That’s God’s wisdom. It’s not what we’ve been taught in school. That’s not what the world teaches us. But that’s what God is teaching us. God blesses those who are so near the bottom they have no hope of being saved. But God in his wisdom, not ours, blesses them.

Didn’t Jesus say that those who were last would be first and those who were first would be last? That’s God’s wisdom not the world’s.

So what do you think? Where are we, the first or the last? What’s the lesson for us? Friends, I think what God is telling us is that we must learn to love those who are struggling in this life. Not pity them, not judge them, but love them, care for them, give them a hand up not just say to them, “God’s blessing to you.” That’s God’s wisdom not ours.

When we accept our responsibility then they are blessed and so are we. But it’s not about us it’s about God and his love for his children.

So, what the world sees as foolish God sees as wise. I wonder, are we beginning to understand God’s wisdom and how we fit into his plan?

Friends, God loves all his children. His grace is for everyone. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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