Posted: 07 Mar 2012 07:07 AM PST
"For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe" (1 Corinthians 1:21).
One of my ongoing duties as director of music at Marble is to audition numerous prospective singers and musicians. The first part of the process entails having the candidate submit a résumé or curriculum vitae. What are his or her qualifications and experience, and where was his or her training? Even before I've heard the candidate sing or play a single note, this tells me a lot about whether or not he or she would be a suitable candidate.
Next, there is often a list of references. Who is willing to go to bat for this person and vouch for his or her credentials? Who has firsthand experience working with him or her and what was it like? This tells me a lot about the person's collaborative relationships and reputation among other professionals in the field.
Résumés and references are valuable indicators as to whether or not someone is going to be the right fit for a particular job. Yet few would hire someone without first meeting the person face to face and having an opportunity to get to know him or her personally and directly. That's where the "gut factor" comes in. Knowledge previously gained about the applicant is then combined with intuition gleaned from spending time with the person, and a decision can then be made about a prospective working relationship.
The Jews looked at Jesus' "application" to be their Messiah and thought they saw some serious flaws. They were looking for someone to unite the tribes of Israel and rule over them in peace and justice. The idea of a crucified Messiah was utterly antithetical to their prerequisites. The Greeks— Paul's term for the Gentiles—looked to the wisdom of their revered philosophers and great thinkers. It would seem those wise sages did not serve as particularly eager references for Jesus as the Messiah.
Paul, however, suggests that true belief stems from more than just the fulfillment of expected signs or the absorption of others' wisdom. Faith requires a leap from knowing about God to knowing God. Faith is our personal response to God's call to enter into a relationship with him through the crucified and resurrected Christ.
The wisdom of this world may rely on facts and figures, formulas and equations, risk versus return, résumés and references. God's wisdom says that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. This may seem foolish in the eyes of some, but to those who have been given the gift of inner vision, it holds deep wisdom.
This Lent may we pray the words of the ancient Irish hymn: Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word; I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord; thou my great Father, thy child let me be; thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee.
Kenneth Dake, director of music