“That boy is too smart for his own good” as my grandmother would remind me when a certain relative started spouting off about this or that. He seemed to have at least three opinions about everything. Later on she’d tell me that he was “educated beyond his intelligence.” Mammaw was a pistol!
We humans have always been a bit too impressed with our own smarts. The “experts” seem to have just the right remedy for all our problems, but when we try to follow their “directions” we seem to be worse off on too many occasions. Story after story has been written trying to figure out why all our “experts” struggle to be believed by the public. But all you have to do is trace so much conflicting advice to see that the people struggle to choose whom to believe!
No wonder St. Paul says “the wisdom of this world is folly with God!
Look at our lesson in 1 Corinthians 3:18-23:
Brethren, let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
St. Paul is trying to help the Corinthian Church mature and escape the temptations of confusing the pseudo-wisdom of mere human reasoning with a wise mindset about the world. Paul actually says it is self deception to confuse the human wisdom for true wisdom. I can’t help but think of all the conversations I’ve had with very educated people who were reasoning away the teachings of the Church on morality and theology, and thinking they certainly sound smart and even have some good points. But, in the end, their trajectory of thinking seems to lead AWAY from Christ and not toward Him.
Paul is particularly concerned that the Corinthians had fallen prey to a “tribal” mentality where they prided themselves of being followers of certain teachers who had been influential in their community. Some were saying “I am of Paul” others were saying “I am of Cephas (Peter) and some were saying that “I am of Apollos” but the “best” group who seemed most proud of themselves were the ones who said “I am of Jesus.” This party mentality was actually working against the unity of the Church and Paul saw that as a greater threat to the Church than even some of the other problems in Corinth. It was a worldly wisdom of seperation rather than the true wisdom of humility and communion.
And Paul reminds these Corinthians that this wasn’t a new problem for we humans. Even today we have so many “educated” people telling us so many conflicting things about truth and morality. We are being told our past is littered with so much evil that we have to tear down everything and start over if we are going to purge the evil from our society. Destruction replaces building up. Rhetoric replaces reasoning. And hubris disguised as “speaking truth to power” replaces actual dialogue. All with the results that what Paul told the Corinthians, we need to remember today: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” and “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”
The path to true wisdom is in what Paul also tells the Corinthians: All things are already yours no matter where you got true wisdom from. An You are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s. Turns out it isn’t WHAT you know that’s really important. It’s WHO you know.
Today, do you have that true wisdom that flows from an intimate and growing relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you wise enough to ignore the foolish “wisdom” of a world that increasingly pretends to know more than God? Is your life built on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ so that you won’t deceive yourself? The lifestyle of a Purposeful Orthodoxy invites you to that kind of true wisdom that both protects you from deceiving yourself AND offers the Light of true wisdom to a world in desperate need! Don’t deceive yourself!