…the wisdom of God in its rich variety…
Left to myself, I can be extremely stubborn and quite arrogant. While I rarely think that I’m better than others, I often think that I think better than others. Well, if you just stopped for five seconds and considered the implications or consequences of that decision, you wouldn’t have done that. To be fair to myself, there are times when that’s true. There are outcomes and situations that can be clearly anticipated based on making this choice or that choice. There’s nothing wrong with slowing down and taking a minute to think about what you’re doing. But there’s a lot wrong with believing that I’m smarter than everyone else because my mind is naturally wired to analyze.
I fall into this trap less often these days. I suppose that comes with age. With age comes the ability to look back on every single mistake I’ve made in my life. With the looking back comes the realization that I’m genuinely not as smart as I think I am sometimes. With the realization comes a sense of gratitude to God, for protecting me from my own self. With the gratitude comes a new appreciation for the way each of us is wired so uniquely. We need the analytical people, but we also need the imaginative. We need the ordered and organized, but we also need the spontaneous.
And what we all need is the reminder that we don’t know it all.
I am continually dismayed at what I see happening on social media. Different people can disagree on issues and remain within the bounds of integrity and love, but that’s not what we’re experiencing. This is not reasoned debate. This is not gracious dialogue. We live in an age of pandemic, and rather than collectively asking, “What is right?,” we throw back our heads and scream, “My rights!” Conspiracy theories abound. Laypeople genuinely believe that they know better and more than those who spent years in medical school.
This is bad enough, but my heart is particularly disturbed when I read arguments for unprepared school districts opening their classrooms in the coming weeks because only a certain percentage of children are likely to die. Is that really where we are as a society? Yeah, some kids will die. That’s okay.
Beyond this, I am personally shaken when I read comments that people with underlying health conditions should “just stay home.” Unpack that with me. We are so focused on what we want to do that we are willing to consign a whole section of people to their homes. We are so unwilling to consider the needs of those who are weaker that it never enters our thoughts how they will pay their bills if they are unable to go to work safely. That’s too bad.
Kids can die and people who have health issues that inconvenience the rest of us can stay locked in their houses (that they’ll lose if they can’t pay the rent or mortgage, but what do we care).
Please, dear reader, slow down. I know you are scared and frustrated. I know some of you reading this genuinely believe that this is a conspiracy, or it’s being blown out of proportion, or the government is trying to control you. I know that you want answers, and you want them yesterday. As someone who is being told that I really don’t have a right to ask my community to consider my needs as a weaker person, I’m with you. Oh, I’m so with you. I feel the anger and the worry. I want life to go back to normal. I want to be able to go where I want to go. I don’t enjoy wearing a mask and washing my hands every hour and using hand sanitizer. None of this is fun.
And maybe that’s the problem.
We want to keep on having our fun, doing what we want to do, without thinking about the bigger picture.
Is that what God would have us do? Is that how God would have us live?
The words Paul uses in Ephesians 3:10 are so interesting and beautiful to me:
- Rich variety: πολυποίκιλος, polypoíkilos (pol-oo-poy’-kil-os), much variegated, marked with a great variety of colors, manifold
- Wisdom: σοφία, sophia (sof-ee’-ah), wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters, supreme intelligence
God’s multicolored depth of variety and knowledge.
Sit with that for a second.
You and I don’t possess that multicolored depth of variety and knowledge. We have access to it. We can ask God for wisdom in navigating relationships and situations, and we are promised to be granted that wisdom (James 1:5). But we can’t see the full spectrum of color and we can’t plumb the depths. We aren’t God. And we aren’t as smart as we think we are.
We don’t know it all. We don’t have every answer.
Part of wisdom is recognizing that. Part of wisdom is developing the humility to listen, and to change our minds instead of clinging to what we’ve already decided to is correct. While nobody knows everything, there are people out there who have greater knowledge and training than we do. Part of wisdom is being willing to follow their lead.
The world is watching, Christian person. They read our callous words. They see our tantrums. And they justifiably roll their eyes when with our next breath we share a Bible verse. We would do well to submit ourselves to God before word-vomiting all over social media or turning on our favorite news channel that confirms whatever we already think. May we learn to orient ourselves around Christ. May we remember that we cannot see or understand everything. May we step off our soapboxes and invite a voice other than our own to fill our ears.
May we learn to live out of compassion and grace instead of self-interest.