Discipleship Part 3- Wisdom
Strong and Courageous
February 8, 2019
We have been looking at the qualities present in a healthy church; the current focus for the past few weeks has been on discipleship. In this post, I would like to explore with you the concept of wisdom, and what role does this character quality have to do with discipleship. It is a pretty tall order, so I can’t cover it all in great detail. But I would like to spend some time engaging our minds into a topic that often is mostly forgotten within Christian circles.
The obvious question that comes to mind is what is wisdom? We think that we know the definition, but nailing it down can be a bit slippery. Even the definition will get various answers based on very differing viewpoints or worldview perspectives.
To the average person, wisdom can often be found in the philosophy of “minimizing suffering and maximizing pleasure.” Mark Bertrand in his book titled (Re)Thinking Worldview describes these as “twin principles that tend to govern our daily existence.” He further explains that “If you could study an inventory of your behavior over the last week, you would find that most of the things you do is either to avoid pain, discomfort, and awkwardness or to achieve happiness, excitement or pleasure. These impulses do not require a great deal of introspection. People find no difficulty in ordering their lives consistently according to these maxims. They come naturally”.
There is no underlying fault in this type of thinking. If we were to attempt to do the opposite of these things, our lives would get very messy in a hurry. However if these credos become the means to an end in and of themselves, then something (particularly biblical wisdom) can end up missing. Bertrand, a deep thinker reveals the danger here. “While the act of avoiding pain and seeking pleasure may be faultless, (if it is raised to) a philosophical belief system then it is not. As a belief system- and I would argue that it is the belief system of most people, it elevates as ends, two experiences we are intended to absorb.” In other words, there are times when virtue demands that we experience pain. There are also times when doing the right thing involves forgoing pleasure. Bertrand concludes, “Christian wisdom differs from that of the world in that it treats as means what others seek as ends. The end for the Christian is neither pain nor pleasure, but Christ. If to serve him we must suffer, it is good. If in serving him we find pleasure, it is also good. But pleasure of pain aside, our lives are dedicated to service.”
This is where wisdom has everything to do with discipleship. We are called to much more than just living out situational ethics in order to be wise. There is such a great difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is found in fortunate circumstances, joy is always available. The joy of the Lord is our strength! ! I’m not trying to say that we are perfect, we all make mistakes. However when I look back at the areas of my life when I have walked in defeat and made poor choices, it seems to have been solidly connected to a philosophy of avoiding discomfort or seeking pleasure as a means to an end. Conversely when I am walking in victory, I am listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and having a spiritual antenna tuned to making right decisions. This is the spiritual battle that all of us encounter.
So how do we define wisdom? Bertrand calls it like this. “Wisdom is the consistent outworking of belief, action and discernment from worldview. It is the process of sanctification. Orthodoxy means literally “right belief,” and orthopraxy means “right action.” So wisdom consists in discerning orthodoxy and orthopraxy, what we should believe and what we should do.”
We have more to discover on this subject. So we will pick up again next week Blessings to all.