THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2014
THE NEED FOR WISDOM
We are called to witness to Jesus. The baptism in the Spirit
is precisely for that purpose, to be empowered to become witnesses
to the ends of the earth. Part of the empowerment is the giving
of spiritual gifts, both for personal sanctification and also
for service. Now one very important gift is wisdom. In fact,
in two listings of spiritual gifts in the Bible, wisdom is
cited first (see Is 11:2 and 1 Cor 12:8). While all are called
to be witnesses, while all are empowered through baptism in
the Spirit, while the spiritual gifts are available to all
(see 1 Cor 12:31), God gives certain gifts to certain people
(see 1 Cor 12:11,29-30), for them to utilize in the service
of the body. The charismatic gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 (there
are other lists) are particularly for the purpose of building
up the body for the work of evangelization.
is wisdom so important? It is because we are weak human instruments
being used for divine purposes. We do God’s work. But
God’s ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts
(Is 55:8). “For who knows God’s counsel, or who
can conceive what the Lord intends?” (Wis 9:13). Thus
our human thinking comes in the way of God’s work and
the deliberation of mortals are timid” (Wis 9:14a).
We are constrained by our limited vision. For example, we
are reluctant to enter into a work of truly massive evangelization
because we think of our lack of resources.
uncertain our plans.” (Wis 9:14b). We make many plans,
often having contradictory ideas, but not really tapping
on to the very mind and heart of God.
the corruptible body burdens the soul” (Wis 9:15a).
We concern ourselves with physical and material needs and
thus neglect the spiritual. We look to our bodily needs
and wants and thus fail to notice the stirrings of the soul
within us, that yearns for God and for the work of God.
“and the earthly tent weighs down the mind with its
many concerns.” (Wis 9:15b). We are burdened by the
concerns of life and fail to just entrust these to the Lord,
knowing that He is a God who provides richly for our needs,
but that we need first things first, the Kingdom before
our own personal well-being.
can we guess the things on earth, and only with difficulty
grasp what is at hand; but things in heaven, who can search
them out?” (Wis 9:16). With so many great secular
minds in this world, we see war, exploitation, selfishness,
greed, corruption, injustice, environmental degradation,
etc. The US and the EU will bomb Syria and endanger the
whole world. The UN promotes reproductive health throughout
the world. People have made a big mess on earth. How indeed
can people grasp what is of the Spirit of God?
What is the way then to bridge the gap? It is the Holy Spirit,
who not only empowers us to witness, but who is our Counsellor,
who gives the gift of wisdom. “Or who can know your
counsel, unless you give Wisdom and send your holy spirit
from on high?” (Wis 9:17).
the call to be witnesses of and to Jesus is also a call to
discipleship. Who can truly witness to Jesus other than a
true disciple? One problem precisely is that those who try
to witness to Jesus are not disciples, not truly following
in the footsteps of the Master, and so their witness becomes
negative. Just consider the scandal of clerical sex abuse,
of pastors with prostitutes, of Christian leaders who lead
profligate lives. Consider Protestant ministers who favor
divorce, abortion and same-sex unions, and Catholics who support
reproductive health. These people all speak about Jesus and
the faith, but are not even true disciples!
is not just about claiming to follow Jesus. It takes wisdom
from on high. Consider the astonishing demands of discipleship
as taught by Jesus himself.
“If any one comes to me without hating his father
and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and
even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Lk
14:26). Jesus does not mean “hate” in the way
we understand the word today. Jesus in fact is all about
love, and our relatives are actually our closest neighbors.
In Palestinian usage, “to hate” means “to
love less.” Thus Jesus speaks about total dedication,
where even family must not stand in the way of doing what
he calls us to do. Remember how James and John left their
father Zebedee and their family fishing business when Jesus
does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be
my disciple.” (Lk 14:27). The life of a true Christian
disciple is not going to be a bed of roses. Rather it will
be a bed of thorns. There will be opposition, persecution,
suffering and pain. How many Christians do all they can
to avoid these? But they are part and parcel of the package.
We are to carry our cross and follow Jesus, all the way
the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all
his possessions cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:33).
A disciple must not be attached to possessions or the things
of this secular world. In fact we are called to empty ourselves
and to deny ourselves. Too many so-called disciples are
indulging themselves instead. We are called to perfection,
right? Jesus told the rich young man that if he wanted to
be perfect, he was to sell all, give the money to the poor,
and then follow him.
Wow! The above demands of discipleship are all contrary to
normal human thinking! And Christians, with their human wisdom,
come up with all the excuses why they should not treat family,
money, possessions, career, etc., in these ways. Inevitably,
the response to the call to discipleship and being witnesses
is weakened or compromised.
can we be truly empowered to witness? We need wisdom. And
we need to follow those who have been given the gift of wisdom.
“Walk with the wise and you become wise” (Prv
We are called to walk the straight and narrow path, the path
of true discipleship. We are called to live our lives for
God, to do only what pleases Him. We are called to be witnesses
to Jesus in the power of the Spirit. Let us pray for wisdom,
and for wise men and women to lead us.
were the paths of those on earth made straight, and people
learned what pleases you, and were saved by Wisdom.”