Pursue Wisdom

Proverbs 9:1-6; John 6:51-58 

     There’s a story about a proud young man who came to Socrates asking for wisdom. He walked up to the philosopher and said, “O great Socrates, I come to you for wisdom.” Socrates recognized a pompous blockhead when he saw one. He led the young man through the streets, to the sea, and they walked chest deep into the water. Then he asked, “What do you want?” “Wisdom, O wise Socrates,” said the young man with a smile.


     Socrates put his hands on the man’s shoulders and pushed him under the water. Thirty seconds later Socrates let him up. “What do you want?” he asked again. “Wisdom,” the young man sputtered, “O great and wise Socrates.” Socrates stuffed him under again. Thirty seconds passed.  Forty seconds. Socrates let him up. The man was gasping. “What do you want, young man?” Between heavy, heaving breaths the fellow wheezed, “Wisdom, O wise and wonderful…” Socrates jammed him under again. Forty seconds passed. Fifty seconds. “What do you want?” “Air!” the young man screeched. “I need air!” 

     Socrates then said, “When you want wisdom as you have just wanted air, then you will have wisdom.” (M. Littleton, Moody Monthly, June 1989, p. 29.) You have to want wisdom as much as life itself because then you’ll find a way to get it regardless of the circumstances.

     The book of Proverbs tells us that wisdom has prepared a scrumptious feast for us – a table of fine meats and breads and wine. There are great rewards to possessing wisdom. It says the way to come to the feast is to lay aside immaturity, and walk in the way of insight. A later proverb explains that insight is knowledge of the Holy One. We are to walk in the knowledge of the Holy One.

     Knowledge of the Holy One could mean knowing the commands of God. But that might lead one to think along the lines of reward and punishment. Is that what love is all about – reward and punishment? I think knowledge of God refers to something more like how Adam “knew” Eve and they produced a son.

     Spending significant amounts of time together, living in each other’s space, eating and drinking and talking together reveals the truth of each other’s nature and being, putting up with unique behaviors, opening your eyes to the beauty that lies beneath the surface, committing yourself completely to the good of each other – these things lead two spirits to know each other and come together as one through love. There is a feast to be shared with the One who is Life.

     The psalmist said that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The word ‘fear’ in the psalms refers, not to being afraid of God, but to being in awe of God; coming to the realization of the enormity of God, the incomprehensibility of God’s wisdom, power, love, and mercy. The beginning of wisdom is to be in awe of the One who brings the feast of Life.

     Jesus tells us he is the bread of Life. In the Old Testament, bread was a symbol of divine wisdom. Jesus is saying that he is the true source of divine wisdom. To pursue wisdom, then, is to take in the life and teachings of Jesus, the source of divine wisdom. Deut. 4:29 says, “Seek the Lord, and you will find Him if you search after Him with all your heart and soul.” We pursue wisdom and awe of God through Jesus who reveals God to us.

     I’m not going to tell you that I found the Source of wisdom by going to church on Sunday morning. That’s not searching for God with all your heart and soul. That’s an hour or two of flipping through the yellow pages once a week. God doesn’t live in the church building. Nor do I think that I found the Source in group Bible study. All I heard there was what you were supposed to think about God, things that had been said for centuries.

     I had to get away from people, like Jesus took the deaf/mute man away from his friends in order to heal him (Mark 7:33). I needed to listen only to the Spirit, to be taught by God. I found the Source of wisdom a couple of ways: Ignatian meditation on the life of Christ, reading the Bible from the first to last page several times, and centering prayer. These were time consuming ventures, but they were a feast.

     Yet the story of Socrates helps you see that the method is not as important as the motivation. Socrates’ lesson to the proud young student at the river was that if you want wisdom, the knowledge of God, you have to want it as much as you want air for life itself. You have to want it more than you want to sit on the couch and watch CSI, or Seinfeld, or American Idol.

     Follow this step: Pray for the desire to become one with Wisdom every day. Pray for it every hour. The Bible says God will grant you your request. Jesus said this is like a child asking her father for a piece of bread at the dinner table. If it’s the best thing for you, your heavenly Father will give it to you.

     Somewhere down the road, you’ll find a way to push beyond the circumstances that are keeping you away from peace and wisdom and the feast of becoming one with God – and you’ll begin to taste and see that the Lord is good.

     To seek wisdom is to pursue a relationship with Jesus, the Christ. Jesus invited us to take his blood, his life into our own lives, so that our life and his life can be one and the same. He invited us to consume his actions  (produced by his flesh) and incorporate them into our actions.

     To eat and drink Jesus’ body and blood is to receive his life and his actions and to allow them to become a one with our life and actions. And then we will know God – that He lives, and breathes, and acts, and works, and teaches, and heals, and comforts through the flesh and blood we call our own. In reality, God has claimed us as His own dwelling place. We are One. 

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