wisdom of this world
I've heard it many times: "don't get caught up in the wisdom of this world!" There is validity in keeping oneself from being taken captive by empty philosophies. We must indeed guard our vulnerable hearts from deceptive ideologies. When taken at face value, I have no gripe with not becoming consumed by the wisdom of the world. In fact, I wholeheartedly believe that a Biblical worldview demands that we protect our hearts from toxic thoughts. However, this good thing can be taken too far when there is an implication that all "worldly" knowledge is bad knowledge, and that for the Christ-follower, all knowledge must derived from supernatural sources.
People were designed to ask questions. We are curious about the world around us, about ourselves, and about God Himself. This is beautiful; God did not create us to be static, one-dimensional characters simply playing a part. We are dynamic. We are messy. And we get the answers to our questions from many places including, but not limited to, the Word of God. I am going to propose a question: is it wrong to pursue earthly methods of education, particularly when the subject matter is not specifically addressed in Scripture? If you support teaching math and grammar in school, you may begin to see that not all knowledge we seek is necessarily Biblical, but that does not mean that it is all empty philosophy, or bad knowledge. We can so easily become entrapped in the mindset that all things are a battle of "secular vs. sacred" and forget that God is the orchestrator of it all. The Lord is the author of all truth, whether we find it directly in Scripture or He reveals it to us through creation. How big is the God you believe in? Is He able to transcend the supernatural realm in which we have attempted to confine Him in order to work in and through the natural order of the world that He designed?
Though we don't enjoy admitting it, we Christians are excellent at convincing ourselves that God fits in the pretty little box we've so carefully crafted for Him to reside in. Not only do we limit the ways in which He can work, we narrow the scope of situations through which He can work. I often hear talk of how God loves to use the unsuspected, the lowly, the average person. And while I believe this is completely true, I also believe that God can use those whom He has lifted up to positions of authority, or who are extremely intelligent, or have very apparent gifts. This conversation is essentially the same as whether or not you can be beautiful or rich or eloquent to be of service to the Lord. While being regarded highly in the world can present its challenges, the Lord can use us in the state He has created us and in the situations He has positioned us to accomplish His will and to glorify His name. We do not need to avoid becoming knowledgeable, or skilled at something, or whatever else would make us revered in the eyes of the world if what we are ultimately seeking is not to gain selfish attention from the world, but to glorify God and make His name known.
The heart of the question I've ultimately raised (how, and in what situations, can God work?) is directly correlated with our understanding of the extent of God's sovereignty. God absolutely can use any person in any situation to accomplish His will. It is not about who you are or what you do that makes you useful in promoting the Kingdom of God; it is about who He is and what He does in those who have positioned themselves at His feet. Having a degree, perfecting a trade, or fostering a skill in a field that is not immediately recognized as residing in the realm of the supernatural does not suspend your candidacy for Godly wisdom. Ask for wisdom. The Lord is faithful to give it. It just might come from the mouth of a friend, a book you've been reading, or an observation you "happen" to make about the world around you. Just because the wisdom comes "from the world" does not mean that God is not the one ultimately giving you understanding. God does work in mysterious ways, through all of His people, and in any situation that He desires to. The God I serve is big enough to work in ways I could never think of myself. Can you say the same?
***In a moment of complete transparency, I am going to let you all in on the origins of these thoughts today. I am close to completing my undergrad in psychology, and have discussed my major choice with a countless number of Christians. While some are encouraging and supportive of my decision to study human cognition and behavior, others do not understand how I, as a fellow believer, could allow my thinking to be distorted by what they think is such a godless worldview that is completely based in worldly wisdom. I would like to clarify something: psychology is not a worldview. It is the scientific study of the mind and human behavior. Just as with biology or geology (or any other -ology), the studying itself does not have a worldview. The worldview is in the hands of the observer, and he or she can (and will) apply what he or she knows to be true. Because I hold a Biblical worldview, all of the information that I absorb as a psychology major is held up against the truths of Scripture. While I know that there is psychological research out there that is FAR from Biblically based, that does not disqualify psychology as a study. I have found that studying psychology has helped me to better understand my brothers and sisters in Christ, and love them better (at least I hope I have been able to accomplish this). ***