Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
-1 Corinthians 1:20-25
I like wisdom. I want to know how the world works, how emotions work, how relationships work. I also really like understanding things. I like knowing how things work, how animals work, how people work. And of course… how God works.
Some people call it being a nerd, some might call it OCD, and some MIGHT call it impressive. But no matter what they call it, all have to acknowledge its origin: I have been extremely blessed.
…With a good ol’, hard nosed, American work ethic. A do-it-yourself attitude. Doggedly pursuing understanding – never quitting, never giving up. It’s respectable, and honorable, and effective. It accopmlishes what it sets out to do. Through strength it gains wisdom and understanding.
I have that attitude with my classmates, co-workers, friends, brother, sister, mom, and dad. But that’s not all…
“I’ll do it myself, God.”
Maybe it’s not such a good thing, after all.
Is there a more dangerous thing to say? “No God, I’ll take care of it.” I’m not overestimating myself – I know I’m a sinner. But I can do better! I just have to do it myself. I’m driven to try. Whether it’s doubting God’s love, or not wanting to “bother” Him with my issues, or merely that age-old arrogant hatred of receiving a “handout”…
“Let me do it.”
And come on – I’m smart. I have some wisdom. I have strength. I have understanding…
“Let me do it.”
“After all, I’m not a child.”
Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
And who would want to be? Children are weak, and fragile, and dependent. You know – like sheep.
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
Tell me, in terms of intelligence, is there much of a difference between a lamb, and a ram? Do rams near the level of intelligence of the shepherd, while lambs are simply too young and lacking in brain development? No. They are all just as incapable of understanding “the things of man”.
If a sheep was mentally ill, would it be considered incapable of understanding the things a sheep must understand to survive? The answer may be yes… but that’s only because ALL sheep are incapable. None understand what it takes to survive. In fact, you might say that the stupidest sheep of all is the one that thinks it DOES.
From the human perspective, all sheep are equally ignorant. Aren’t you glad you aren’t one? Seriously, they’re pathetic. They need a Shepherd.
Oh wait… so do we.
How much MORE do we need one? If there is a chasm between the understanding of sheep and their shepherds, how much greater is the chasm between us and God? If sheep can’t reason to understand why their shepherd is taking them a certain way, how can we understand the WHY’s of God’s way?
It’s very simple: We can’t. But we can know the way itself – a way that does not rely on the actions, or strength, or wisdom, or understanding of us simple sheep. A way that does not demand of us the righteousness, competence, or intelligence of God. He knows we sinful, simple, pathetic sheep could never come within an eternity of Himself. So what did He do?
He came to us.
Our Shepherd became a sheep.
He became the perfect lamb who was sacrificed in our place, to save us. And how does that salvation come to us? In the things of sheep.
It comes in faith – the simple, dependant trust we sheep have for our Shepherd. We do not understand, yet we trust. We CANNOT understand, yet we trust – the rams, and the ewes, and the lambs all alike. If you want to cause the lambs to stumble, and step between them and their Shepherd, then you have Him to answer to for it. Personally, I’d rather have a millstone tied around my neck.
It comes in water, and bread and wine. We sheep believe this not because we understand it, but because OUR SHEPHERD SAID SO. We don’t know what it takes to “survive”, but our Shepherd does, and we trust that that is what He gives us.
We follow our Shepherd not because we give intellectual assent to the direction He’s going, but simply because it’s Him. The sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. There’s nothing else we can do – honestly, what else are sheep good for?? They are good for following. Almost makes me think of children…
What are children good for..?
Children are not good for understanding. They are not good for pursuing. They are not good for initiating. But if you give them a gift? Oh yeah, they’re good at that. They’re good at being dependent (even if sometimes they don’t want to be). They’re good at trusting despite (and you might sometimes argue BECAUSE OF) their lack of understanding. So what are children good for..?
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
I know I can’t do it myself. As I try, I become more aware not only that I can’t do it myself, but I can do… nothing.
Only ask, and receive…
“Teacher, show me!”…
“Master, compel me!”…..
“Lord, rule me!”…….
“Father… have mercy on me…”