Sunday, February 13, 2011

Readings from Today

Let's look at the readings from today.  I'm using a few translations so we can really get a better look at

Sir 15:15-20 (RSV)  If you will, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice. He has placed before you fire and water: stretch out your hand for whichever you wish. Before a man are life and death, and whichever he chooses will be given to him. For great is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power and sees everything;  his eyes are on those who fear him, and he knows every deed of man. He has not commanded any one to be ungodly, and he has not given any one permission to sin. 

1Co 2:6-10 (RSV)  Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.  But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him," God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

There is a lot going on here, but I want to focus on the idea of God's wisdom first.  His wisdom is great, and He sees everything.  He knows everything.  This makes His wisdom perfect.  We are unable to attain this level of perfection because we do not know everything or see all ends.  God's wisdom is superior to anything we can come up with.

My priest pointed out in the second reading, Paul is writing to Greeks.  Philosophy was a huge deal to the Greeks, and Paul is telling them the wisdom of this age or the wisdom of the rulers is not the wisdom they should want.  The wisdom of this age will pass away.  The wisdom of the rulers now will pass away.  The wisdom of God, on the other hand, is eternal.  It never goes away,  it never changes, and it is never wrong.  Unlike the philosophy at the time, God is eternal, never ending, and perfect.  His wisdom is what we should seek after as Christians.

This is not unparalleled today.  Science is the huge deal of the day, and like the philosophy of old, the wisdom science can provide apart from God will pass away.  All of the current thoughts and models and self-serving human wisdom will fade, just like all other human inventions.  God's wisdom never fails.  In fact, God predicts this in the Word over and over again.  People continually pick the convenient, the easy, and the things they make up for themselves time and time again to their detriment.

Rom 1:18-32 (not part of today's reading) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 

Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.

People will make up a God if they don't like the one that really exists.  They may actually call it a god, or they might turn to worship of themselves or philosophy or science or any other thing that isn't really God.  They will come up with all sorts of reasons and false logic to justify their beliefs.  They will develop their own brand of religion that has nothing to do with anything, as it is based on human wisdom instead of God's.  I read an article on CNN this week that claims the Bible didn't really disprove of homosexual activity.  The article was so problematic and full of flaws; I can't believe the published it.  What is worse though is this is becoming more and more common and people are going along with it.  This is human wisdom, not God's.  Whose do we think we ought to follow?

I'm including the rest of Matthew Chapter 5, in addition to the readings from today.
Mat 5:17-48
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 

"You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.'  But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny. 

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'  But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 

"Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil. 

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.'  But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Okay, here's God.  The author of perfect wisdom.  Telling us what He expects.  This is God's wisdom, God's word, literally talking to us, both then and now.  This is how we are to behave.  This is how we are to think.  It doesn't matter what the world says about it.  We must be strong and of good courage and follow God!  The wisdom of this world is not from God at all, and will deceive us.

Ever watch Lord of the Rings?  All the characters, great or small, would fall victim to the lure of the One Ring.  Some fell more quickly than others, and fortunately for all, hobbits took quite some time.  But they would all want it.  They would all be deceived by it.  That's what the world does to us.  Something may make perfectly good sense in our heads, or something will appeal to our feelings and our emotions, and it can be 100% deceitful and opposed to God.  We might not even realize it if we're not careful.  The road to hell is paved with what again?

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