Thursday, June 4, 2009

an uneducated church

“Now when they … realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men…” – Acts 4:13

When I’m elected President of the United States, the first thing I’m going to do is surround myself with the best and the brightest. I’ll want to see resumes longer than a Cormac McCarthy novel – an average of 3.5 graduate degrees and accolades out the wazoo. Such is the wisdom of our world.

Jesus, on the other hand, started a world revolution. His aim was to turn the entire world upside down, and in doing so, to place it right side up. Jesus, the President of the Universe, carefully handpicked his Cabinet – a few fishermen, a tax collector, a hooker or two. He chose the “uneducated and the ordinary.” Such is the wisdom of our God.

A friend of mine once told me that I hold the most pretentious, nonsensical, and idolatrous degree that exists – a Master of Divinity. As if God could be “mastered” in the academy. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m pro-education. I think it’s a blessing. Education need not hinder our spiritual growth, depth, or power. In fact, when done in conversation with Jesus, education will only enhance our ministerial capacity. That being said, God doesn’t need our intelligence. And to prove it, Jesus started a perpetual world revolution with “uneducated and ordinary men.”

Take Paul, for example. Paul was a scholar. He sat at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). When it came to the Law, Paul wasn’t just knowledgeable – he was blameless. And yet Paul came to regard all his learning “as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ” (Phil 3:7). Or consider Paul’s words to the Corinthians regarding their own call: “not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth” (1 Cor 1:26). They were like Peter – uneducated and ordinary.

You see, God’s primary concern isn’t that we be knowledgeable. The first sin, you may recall, had to do with eating from the tree of knowledge. God’s primary concern is that we be wise. And wisdom can’t be learned in the academy. But “the beginning of all wisdom is the fear of the Lord” (Ps 111:10).

As an educated people, we do well to remember that “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom” and that “faith should not rest on human wisdom but on the power of God” (1 Cor 1:25, 2:5). We do well to remember that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor 8:1).

“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” – 1 Cor 1:20

1 comment:

Patrick Hall said...

A) whoever made fun of you for your degree is obviously afraid of the immense power you wield as a Master of Divinity - which is even more awesome than being a Master of Wizardry.

2) You actually have to read a Cormac McCarthy novel to gain the "cred" to mock him. Just a PS.