Saturday, June 25, 2016

How Did We Get Here? Wisdom Together

Wisdom Together                                                        6/26/16

Proverbs 4, Colossians 1:28-2:7


Solon found himself right in the middle of it.  Before him was placed a political, social, emotional and human conundrum, and failure would mean civil war.  On his left were the wealthy, the land owners, the oligarchy (a leadership group consisting of family heads).  On his right, the farmers. 


Aristotle would later describe Solon as “middle class in wealth and status” (this is one of, if not the, earliest recorded use of the term).


The problem was an extreme divide in wealth and the outcome was debt and debt bondage.  Farmers were becoming slaves in their own country.  Some had their children taken away as slaves by the wealthy to settle debt.  The system was broken, tension was heated and civil war was ready to happen.


The landowners wanted to keep their land.   The farmers wanted to live outside of an unreasonable debt system.  Everyone’s eyes turned to Solon.  What is the plan?


Solon was given the resources and trust of both parties.  They would respect his decision.  Solon cancels the debts, returns the children and land ot those who had them taken away, calls the exiles home and warns the rich that moderation is better than luxury.  Solon then introduces a term:  Eunomia.


Eunomia was the greek word for “the good order”.    This word was born out of abstract thinking, but it also made sense to the people.  This was what was needed:  the good order.


As a result of Solon’s call to good order, classical Greece expands its government to include more participation among a variety of people.  Society was defined by certain classes and phyle, and each of them had representation, and specific jobs given, with those who  were outwardly successful continuing in leadership roles.


Solon touched on something with a deep truth:  that there is eunomia (good order) to society, but also to family life, and the natural world.  Because of Solon, there was now a good order to the oligarchy and farmers of Ancient Greece.  The 6th century in Greece gives birth to a golden age.   Democracy prospers because a good order was defined.


This summer, we will be looking at the question:  How Did We Get Here?  It is a review of the broad themes and values of western civilization.  Last week, we introduced Oral, Pre-Written History, with its lasting gift that life is more than survival.  Today, we lift up Classical Greece, and the practice of Wisdom Together.


Classical Greece, strong from the 800’s to 400’s BC, ruled throughout the Mediterranean, and whose values were continued by Rome when that Empire came to rule.  Greece provided several successful examples of wisdom together, including:

·       the purer form of democracy, that people could cast their vote after healthy debate

·       Heads of families, rather than dictators or emperors, worked together to offer direction

·       The master/disciple model used by Jesus Christ

·       Plato’s weaving together a multi-discipline worldview that eventually became what we call western civilization

·       Continuing the idea that the individual was part of something bigger and more important.


Wisdom is defined as the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships.  Wisdom is more than knowing what is right, it is also acting correctly.  We could say that wisdom is using the right information the right way.  The Greek word for wisdom is Sophia.


The Book of Proverbs is a collection of wisdom.  This includes individual sayings, but also the background of why Solomon seeks to convey wisdom to the next generation.  Wisdom is for our life.


In Proverbs 4, we have a who, what, why, when, where and how of wisdom. 


Who?  Wisdom is called a protector, someone who watches over us.  Wisdom is referred to as feminine.  Wisdom is someone who seeks to exalt people, to lift them up.  She is a garland to wear around you. 


What should we do with wisdom?   4:13 cautions us to guard her, for she is our life.


Why should we have her in our lives?  Wisdom offers us health, even long life.  She is in our lives so that our steps will not be hampered and our running not stumbling.  We should have her in our life so that we avoid the evil path.


How do we get wisdom?  We are to listen to instruction, to pay attention, to get understanding.  There is a responsibility on our part, and bad habits can make it harder to overcome.  We are to take hold of her words, and keep the commands.  Solomon speaks clearly that getting wisdom will cost us; but that it is worth whatever it costs, even all we have.


When and where will you use wisdom?   Wisdom can be present throughout all the seasons of life.  She will be on our path.  Wisdom is about the matters of the heart.  We are to be wise in our words, to look out for wisdom with our eyes, and our gaze, and to give wisdom careful thought as we forge out paths.  Displaying wisdom requires a steadfast dedication, to stay on the right path, and to not turn toward evil. 


In Colossians, Paul teaches us about wisdom in the church (our life together).  He appropriately proclaims that Jesus Christ is our wisdom, and that we should teach about him and learn about him, and from him and his teachings.  Focusing on Jesus Christ allows us to find maturity.  What a wonderful gift maturity is, it is that good order that speaks to us as created beings.  Jesus gives us wisdom, and the energy to help others find wisdom.


What happens when we find Christ, and his wisdom?  We feel close to fellow travelers.  Paul tells the Colossians that they will be encouraged in love, united in love, and have the full riches of complete understanding.  Are these things that you want in your life?  Do you want them for the congregation?  Together, we are invited to know the mystery of God (Jesus Christ), in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.    Knowing Jesus also allows us to not be deceived, to have a faith that is firm, rooted and growing in Christ.


It isn’t just about being together.  All sorts of groups can be on the same page, and be together in their work.  Our work as Christians is about Christ.  He is the one we lift up, and in doing so, we find ourselves lifted up by old friend wisdom. 


Ancient Greece does offer us one extreme warning about being together, but not being wise together.  Some competition had been developing among the different philosophical groups.  When tensions rise, and accusations start to fly, one of the teachers is brought to trial.  A vote is called, and the people pay attention to the accusations rather than what was wise.  And as a result, Socrates was sentenced to capital punishment.  What a tragic loss that wisdom had been disconnected from the togetherness.


It was Socrates who brought forth important questions for the world to consider:  What is just?  What is truth?  What is good?

Hundreds of years later, across the sea, God sends the answer in the person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was just, true and good.  In fact, he said this about himself.  He said that he was the way (that is just).  He said that he was the truth.  He said that he was the life.  Life is good.  For God is the author of life, and God is good.


Pray for wisdom.  But not just for yourself.  Pray for wisdom together in all realms of your life.  Pray for your colleagues, pray for your work’s mission statement, pray for the congregation you are a part of, pray for your neighborhood, pray for your family, and for families, pray for leaders, in government and in the church.  Pray for wisdom. 


We can have wisdom together, because God has sent Jesus Christ.  In him is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.



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