What is for you the greatest example of human inventiveness, human ingenuity, human discovery or human achievement?
A quiet reflection for a moment or two.
Now share your own thoughts with one or two people sitting near you.
And now an opportunity for those who want to, to share their experience with all of us.
For the writer of the book of Job one of the greatest feats of human achievement and human endeavour was to be found in the ability of miners to mine the depths of the earth for precious metals.
Job 28: 1-11
It is essentially the same fascination we have for the wonder of human achievement, human endeavour, human inventiveness.
There is, however, a problem.
The great problem with human inventiveness, with scientific advances is that they can so often be used for good or for ill.
On occasions the difference between good and ill is clear. It is stark. It is plain for all to see.
However, all too often, the distinction between good and ill becomes blurred. It is not so clear. There is an immense area of grey.
That is the point at which we require wisdom. Wisdom to discern good from ill. Wisdom to understand what we ought to do with the discoveries we make. Wisdom to cope with the world we shape through our human ingenuity, inventiveness and endeavour.
Where can that wisdom be found?
That is the plaintive cry of the book of Job.
The question becomes more pressing. Listen to the final part of this passage. The way Job arrives at the insight that makes all the difference maps out for us a route to follow.
The insight he arrives at is an insight we would do well to take to heart.
Wisdom is not to be found simply within human endeavour. Not all would agree with that statement. Many have mapped out systems of thought that seek to explain things. Are human systems of thought satisfying? Do they answer all questions? Hopeful, or not hopeful.
One problem is the sheer scale of things – the possibility of having a single theory that encompasses all is attractive but elusive. Maybe there is something. The writer of the book of Job has the conviction that none is to be found that fully satisfies every eventuality. I think I am with the writer of the Book of Job.
Is there an alternative.
It is at this point that faith comes into its own. Faith points us to one who is greater than all we see, greater than the greatest human endeavour. Faith points us to God beyond, within, around, beneath, above all that we see.
The wisdom to understand, to find purpose, to live in the world of God’s creation, is to be found in the God who is creator of the world.
Is it possible to tune in to this wisdom?
Job has the conviction that this wisdom is available to humankind.
“God said to human beings …”
It is a remarkable feature of the human mind that it is capable uniquely among all the creatures of the planet to grasp the nature of the world. Let us not under-estimate the human ingenuity.
One of the things that I find most remarkable is that the human mind has the capacity to identify just six mathematical equations, that have a beauty to them, which are capable of describing the whole universe and everything in it. I think that is remarkable.
The human mind is capable of receiving insight from the creator.
“God said to human beings …”
In my faith that is because the human mind is made in the image of God.
So we reach this wonderful verse : Job 28:28
God said to human beings:
“To be wise, you must have reverence for the Lord.
To understand, you must turn from evil.”
This is the key.
This is the essential wisdom.
This is the way to understand our place in the world, who we are, where we are going.
To b e wise you must have reverence for the Lord.
First, to acknowledge with awe and reverence. God is God. This world is the world of God’s creation.
That means putting God first.
Secondly, as we acknowledge God that gives us a framework to distinguish good from evil. And then a reason to depart from evil and follow the good.
“To understand you must turn from evil.”
Were it only Job that we had at our disposal at this point, I would not find that altogether helpful.
It begs so many questions.
What is God like, what is the evil we should avoid?
What is the good we should do?
It is at that point for me that the Christian faith becomes good news. The God of creation discloses himself to us in humanity itself. God, the God of creation, becomes as one of us. He speaks our language. He confronts our problems. He weeps our tears. He shares our vulnerability.
In Jesus Christ.
Many think the most powerful image of Christ is this remarkable painting, ‘The Bound Lamb’ It captures in a way that is so hard-hitting, the sheer vulnerability and weakness that is at the heart of our Good Friday Faith.
He is surely echoing Job’s insight when he suggests there are two fundamental dimensions to living in the world of God’s creation.
First, love God – to be wise, love God.
Second, love your neighbour – to understand, love your neighbour.
There are immense grey areas … but these two things give us a framework within which we can grapple with issues and seek a way of living in a world filled with human ingenuity but fraught with humanity’s inhumanity.
The very nature of the God we focus on in our Christian faith is love. God is love. Let us always come back to that as the touchstone for living our lives.
The very essence of the life we are called to lead is of love.
We are preparing to mark the story of Jesus – through Holy Week.
The Greatest Week of our Lives
A Journey with Jesus at
5th April Palm Sunday – The Procession
9am – Sunday Special children’s breakfast
10.30 and 6-30 Palm Sunday Services
Monday to Saturday – The Greatest Week
10.30-11.30 am and 7-8pm a space for Prayer – with The Passion on DVD with Communion on Maundy Thursday
Good Friday – Hero to Criminal
10.30 to 12-30 a space for prayer and 12-00 a walk from
Saturday – The Quietest Day
10am-2pm, Easter Holiday Club meet at St Luke’s church
7-30 The Passion on the big screen
Easter Sunday – The True Hope
6.15am at Crickley Hill – sunrise service
10.30am and 6-30 Easter Celebration
It is almost an anti-story of human endeavour. It tells of weakness, suffering, vulnerability. And yet it tells of God’s presence.
God is in the suffering, in the weakness in the vulnerability of our world. Maybe this is the greatest human creativity for us to celebrate.
The way for us to follow is precisely this way. The way of the cross. The way of weakness, suffering, vulnerability. The way of God’s love.
Here is wisdom indeed.
Here is the key to it all … the beginning of unravelling the mystery of life and all it means to live in the troubled world of God’s creation.