Knowing God

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe (I Cor. 1:21).

I've been meditating on this verse for a couple of months, on and off, and God has so used it to encourage my heart. I frequently rehash old conversations in my head, and I watch Facebook pretty regularly, so I see and remember what people around me express in terms of spiritual things. One thing that I've noticed is that most of the people I grew up around really prize education, critical thinking, sarcasm, and wit. Here in Vancouver, too, a certain pressure exists to display a cool, measured, urbane, almost ironic spirituality that rejects revealed truth while prizing personal choice and self-discovery. Thinking and choosing for oneself is a great value; it marks a person as being educated and enlightened, above foolishness and blind faith. This brand of spirituality also subtly implies that the person who bears it is more qualified to measure spiritual truths than others. It is incredibly self-congratulatory, but it cannot exist apart from three factors: high intellectual capacity, access to resources, and leisure for contemplation. If we were to speak of classes vs. masses, we could label it the religion of the classes.

I think most religions contain some of this, whether they glorify the intellectual, the guru, the teacher, the scientist, or any other religious specialist. And what they unanimously imply is: some people are incapable of grasping spiritual truth. Some people cannot know God.

I can illustrate this. My story of knowing God starts before I was born; my parents became followers of Jesus when they were both teenagers, and once I was born they began to share Jesus with me through stories and through their love. When I was six years old I realized I was cut off from God, but that God loved me and sent Jesus to die in my place and take my sins away. I didn't understand this completely, but I did surrender to it. I gave Jesus my life and, as the Bible says, received reconciliation to God instead of alienation from him. That was the beginning of my spiritual journey--my path to knowing God. Sometimes when I share that story people react to my six-year-old decision. Their skepticism implies that no six-year-old knows enough to make decisions about God--as if my age at making the decision makes any difference whether it was the right decision.

If intellectual capacity, access to resources, and leisure for contemplation define spiritual aptitude, it follows that some people have less potential for enlightenment/spirituality than others. Perhaps they are young, or uneducated, or poor, or have special needs. If true spiritual understanding is solely the realm of the sophisticate, they have no hope.

This is why I love God's way. When the Bible says that "the world through wisdom did not know God," it spits in the face of religious systems that discriminate in favor of urban intellectuals and mountaintop gurus. What this says is that if you are poor and uneducated, you can know God. If you have a handicap, you can know God. If you lack the acumen to differentiate between fine theological points, you can know God. If you are a small child, you can know God. If you can humble yourself to receive the foolishness of preaching, you can know God.

God does not discriminate in favor of the wealthy, strong, or intelligent. If he did, people with mental disabilities couldn't know him. People struggling to exist in impoverished areas couldn't know him. The least influential couldn't know him.

First Corinthians 1:26-29 says, "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world, and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence" (NKJV). God specializes in picking the unlikely, unwanted, and disrespected for his very own. He favors the people we would pick last for a team. This is such incredibly good news.


  • I get to go home in less than three weeks to celebrate my brother's wedding!

Prayer requests

  • Please continue praying for this Bible study on Mondays. I'm teaching on Proverbs 5-7, and I really feel like I don't know how to teach anymore.
  • I'm dealing a lot with feelings of isolation, and I could use some good community time where I can receive love without having to feel like I'm on the job. 
  • Please pray for our team to have vision.
  • Please pray for divine appointments. Pray that we'd be able to see where God's at work and to join him.
Thank you for praying for me!

1 comment:

pinkbriefcase said...

Jen--sometimes you post things that articulate feelings I've had for a while that I couldn't quite parse out. This is one of those times. I find myself continually more distrustful of blanket statements about God wouldn't... or God can't ... and I try to explain that using human reasoning and order to define and limit God's power isn't getting us closer to God, it's pushing us away -- that if we expect the entire mystery of life and the Gospel to fit into "proof" statements, like the way you determine angles in Geometry, then we are missing the point.

I'm glad you'll have some time with your family this month -- sometimes when you are feeling homesick, the best solution is to just go home. :)