The end of September is upon us, this means...well...changing leaves, cooler temps, new and returning TV series, but most of all it means we are waste deep football season!!! We are all given over to the rituals that make football, football in our society. Tailgating food feasts, face and chest painting master pieces, and vain pumping war cries...all rituals of an American football experience. A ritual American football fans and American Christians have in common is the "Hail Mary"! The last second attempt to save the day and just like in football, it rarely works in prayer. When we find out that grandma just had a stroke we got Jesus on speed dial. When we have an important test and we just can't afford to fail again, we dial God 911. When there's no money left in the bank account and it's only the 15th, we send out an emergency txt message to the father. When the biopsy comes back with bad news we get Jesus on the mainline!!! Truth is life is full of that kind of stuff, unexpected and often tragic things happen and when it does, for better or for worse we pray to God. Unfortunately that kind of prayer life is not good for us to have.
The Holy Spirit is our connection to the heavenly wisdom of God and if our connection is in constant disconnect are we ever truly operating under the wisdom of heaven, or is our wisdom more like that of the worlds? In our passage James begins with sort of a rhetorical question, "who is wise amongst you?" Knowing that there are none at all James proceeds to explain what real wisdom is all about. James refers to this wisdom as heavenly wisdom, opposed to the earthly wisdom of this world. What is different about the two wisdoms? Well earthly wisdom is a wisdom that says strength, power, prestige and violence are the answer. Wisdom that tells us to ascend the later of wealth and power as much as possible and if you hurt, wound or maim people along thats ok, they should stay on the porch if they can't run with the big dogs! It's a, in the words of 50cent, a "get rich or die try'n" wisdom.
In place of this wisdom James recommends a heavenly wisdom. A wisdom that simply does not share the perspective of this world. A wisdom that does not embrace the worlds struggle for supremacy. It is a wisdom that calls for peacemaking, meekness and humility. All of which were not virtues in the Greco-Roman world this letter was written to. A commitment to the transforming power of prayer and a value system that seemed backwards was confusing to the average 1st century person as it is to the average 21st century person, but it is a heavenly way of living, it is a heavenly wisdom.
When one makes Jesus , a peasant carpenter from Galilee, who was executed as a political criminal, their LORD it confounds the wisdom of this world. And when one makes a commitment to do the things that this crucified LORD commands, it gets even crazier. Love your enemy, feed your enemy, give drink to your enemy, pray for those who hate you. Sound crazy enough? To a person made slave to a temporal and corporeal wisdom, it's more than crazy, it's blasphemous! But to a person who's wisdom is rooted in the heavenlies and that is not of this world, it makes perfect sense.
My favorit verse from this passage is verse 18, "Peacemakers who sow in peace, reap a harvest of righteousness." None of this is easy and Jesus told us it would be hard, but it's the price we pay to serve a risen savior. Go and sow seeds of peace and in you world you will reap the righteousness of God. Embrace a wisdom not of this world and you will find peace to sow.