Monday, July 27, 2020

“The Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” —Proverbs 2:6

I have a bad habit that I’m usually able to convince myself is actually a good habit. Most days, I bombard my brain with data and information for as many seconds as I can tolerate. I read the news. I read analysis of the news. I read about sports. I look at statistics. I listen to podcasts. I read books (not as much as I’d like). I read email newsletters. I read emails from real people I actually know.

And I read the Bible. And I pray. And I spend a little bit of quiet time with God.

But too often I feel overwhelmed and unfocused, like the information is all coming at me too fast for me to do anything with it. I’m like a hungry man being pelted with fresh fruit and vegetables by the 30 best pitchers in baseball throwing at me simultaneously. It’s not really that helpful.

I think at the heart of the problem is misplaced faith. When I was in seminary, each day on the way to class I would walk past a stone engraving with words from Proverbs 9: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The verse from Proverbs 2 that is part of today’s Daily Texts gets at the same idea. Knowing the Lord and being known by the Lord is the path to real, lasting, meaningful wisdom.

I’m not suggesting that followers of Jesus shouldn’t read anything but the Bible. All truth is God’s truth, and learning about God’s creation and our fellow beloved human beings is a central way of loving God with our minds.

At the same time, we must remember where trustworthy wisdom and understanding really come from. So often, I get overwhelmed, anxious, or confused trying to take in all the information around me. In these moments, when I’m forced to slow down, to encounter God, to remember God’s truth and God’s promises, I’m able to see the world around me through the lens of my faith-in-Jesus worldview.

When I’m worked up about the sin and lack of integrity in the world at large, it helps to be reminded that this is exactly the same sin and lack of integrity that exists inside of me. And it helps to be reminded that God is not surprised by this sin and lack of integrity. In fact, he has already worked his master plan to deal with it comprehensively through the love of Jesus Christ.

When I’m anxious about the future of my career or community or country or world, it helps to be reminded that God’s promises and presence are much bigger than any of the fears that I can conjure (real as those fears may be).

The Confessing Church leader Karl Barth reportedly told young theologians “to take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” Those of us committed to loving God are all young theologians, and so the call to us is the same. By all means, learn. Learn from anyone you can. But do not forget the true source of wisdom and understanding. Do not forget the promises the Lord has made to you. Do not forget that our Lord has a plan for you and for this world he loves so much.

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