Bread – Wisdom

August 22, 2014


Readings for Friday, August 22, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Job 2:1-13; Acts 9:1-9; John 6:27-40; Psalms 140,141,142,143

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The three non-Psalm readings today are powerful readings and each would support many, many Breads and sermons. In Job, Satan strikes Job with sores and Job responds to the urging of his wife to curse God, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” Job 2:10 From the reading in Acts, Saul (to become Paul) asks for permission to imprison the women and men who believe in Christ, receives that permission, and on the Damascus road on his mission sees a light from heaven and is directly confronted by Christ. In our reading from John, the disciples hear Jesus say that the work of God in a man’s life is “that you believe in Him whom He has sent” and then says, without qualification, that “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst … All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out…For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:28-40

In fact, these are so powerful, I have no clue about where to even begin, so I decided to begin with “Wisdom.”  But rather than offer my own commentary on this, let me offer instead the commentary from the English Standard Version Study Bible and the article which preceded Job called “Introduction to the Poetic and Wisdom Literature,” of which Job is considered a part:

“Some choose simply to define “wisdom” by the literature…this approach is unhelpfully restrictive. Others choose to define “wisdom” as an outlook, almost a philosophy of life. But different “wisdom” writings have different emphases, so this approach seems to fragmentary.

What does the [Biblical wisdom] books and outlooks have in common, however, is a keen interest in the way the world works, humanity’s place within it, and how all this operates under God’s creative, sovereign care.

Biblical “wisdom,” then, might be defined as skill in the art of godly living, or more fully, that orientation which allows one to live in harmonious accord with God’s ordering of the world.

We know that “wisdom” is much, much more than education, knowledge, or intelligence. Instead, as brilliantly described in the ESV Study Bible, wisdom is “that orientation which allows us to live in harmonious accord with God’s ordering of the world.”

We actually exercise wisdom all the time, but is it Christian wisdom? We know how to live in harmonious accord within our neighborhood (so-called “street smarts”). We know how to live in harmonious accord within our businesses (so-called “business smarts”). We know how to live in harmonious accord within our political structures, our economic structures, our social structures, our educational structures, and even our religious structures. And if we have a lot of wisdom in these things, we can work them to our advantage.

But where is God in the exercise of these kinds of wisdom.

What would happen to us if we asked the question “Lord, help me live today in harmonious accord with Your will; help me Lord to understand Your ordering of the world so that I can live in harmonious accord with it; Lord, how do You want me to live today?”

It seems to me that if I tried to live in harmonious accord with God’s ordering of the world, instead of mine, that things would go much better for me. To do this, though, I need to know what God’s ordering of the world is … I need to understand Scripture, because it is there that God’s ordering is revealed.

There are three people in today’s readings who lived in harmonious accord with God’s will. The first is Job … remember he ends his sorrowful journey with great joy, exclaiming “I know my Redeemer lives.” The second is Paul … once confronted by Christ and studying Him during his time afterward, he emerged as apostle to the Gentiles, to us. The third is Jesus Himself, who knew God’s ordering of the world required Him to sacrifice Himself for our sins on the cross.

Wisdom begins with knowing that there is a God and that I (and you) are not He.

Are you there yet?

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© 2014 GBF

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