IN BUT NOT OF THE WORLD
Lord, thank you for your book with all its wisdom. By your Spirit, press in on me today with new insight.
Read 1 Corinthians 2:6–16
God’s Wisdom Revealed by the Spirit
6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[a]—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[b] 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,
“Who has known the mind of the Lord
so as to instruct him?”[c]
But we have the mind of Christ.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Help us, O God, to see the world as you see it and to love the world as you love it, in Jesus’ name.
Is the world good or evil? The church has always struggled to work out how to relate to creation. Is the world something from which we must escape? Throughout the history of the church, there have always been those who considered the world totally corrupt or deficient, so irreparably damaged by sin, that salvation is seen as extricating believers from the world’s irredeemable chaos.
In today’s reading, Paul uses the idea of the world as a metaphor for human society. Thus Paul easily shifts between the ‘wisdom of this age’ (v 6) and the ‘spirit of the world’ (v 12). Paul here is talking about the values, ethics and self-centered ungodliness of human society. These indeed we must reject: ‘Do not love the world or anything in the world.’1 However, we are not called to withdraw from the world, not even the human world – quite the opposite. Paul will shortly agree that we are inextricably part of the human society.2 How can we be the ‘salt of the earth’3 if we must withdraw from it?
Furthermore, we do not, we must not, reject the created world, that which eons ago God made, looked upon and called ‘very good’.4 Paul knows that the world has been corrupted by human sinfulness5 but also that God’s ultimate purpose is, through Christ, to restore all creation to its former perfection and glory – and this includes us and our bodies as well.6 The ‘world’ of human society is corrupt and we must turn from it, but the church has received the Spirit from God (v 12). Open to the Spirit’s guidance, we must make good and godly choices about the created world, including our own bodies. Then we will truly have ‘the mind of Christ’ (v 16).
‘O Lord of every shining constellation / that wheels in splendor through the midnight sky, / grant us your Spirit’s true illumination / to read the secrets of your work on high.’7
Spirit of God, dwell in me in fullness, so that I may have the light of hope in my eyes, the fire of inspiration on my tongue, and your love in my heart.
1 1 John 2:15 2 1 Cor 5:9,10 3 Matt 5:13 4 Gen 1:31 5 Eg Rom 1:18–32 6 Rom 12:1 7 Albert Bayly, 1901–84
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