While studying for our ladies’ class, I was researching the question, “What are the two reactions to the ways of the Lord, Hosea 14:9?” The answer was, “The righteous walk in them, But transgressors stumble in them.”
This led me to a very interesting but disturbing look at the way many people look at the church that Christ loves. We are considered steeped in tradition, uneducated, and essentially pretty stupid. Our views of women’s rights, especially, are considered outdated and discriminatory, but there are also our views on creation, baptism and of course the ever-so-popular homosexual rights. Many religious groups consider us to be legalistic, petty, bickering groups of self-righteous social cliques. Some accuse us of constantly arguing about insignificant details while forgetting that Jesus commanded us to love the Lord and love your neighbor.
First, we have to look at the accusations to see if there is any truth in the matter. It is sometimes hard to look in the mirror and realize that we’ve gone all afternoon with a big piece of lettuce stuck in our teeth. But if we take time to look in the mirror and remove it, we can fix the problem so that we no longer appear ridiculous to those who look at us.
Do we bicker and fight over foolishness? Yes, sometimes we do. Do we stick with traditions over the Word of God? Yes, sometimes we do.
But on the other hand, we will look to the Word of God for our solutions. When we find ourselves arguing about details, we go to the Bible. When we have a question about an activity, we go the Bible to see if it is scripturally sound. We also go to the Bible to find what God has to say (or what God doesn’t say) about issues that could cause divisions.
And this, sisters, is where we find the stumbling block. Where we see God’s Word as the final authority, many look at the Bible as a book of great suggestions. We believe the Bible means exactly what it says. Some scholars, however, don’t think the average individual is smart enough to truly understand what God’s word means. If you don’t have a background in Greek, cultural studies or a PhD after your name then your interpretations aren’t valid. In essence, when people don’t like what the Bible has to say, they simply use their human wisdom to reason it away.
Jesus came to bring His message of salvation to those who were not considered wise in this world. Over and over we see him criticizing those who were the leaders of their time, the ones who thought they had all the answers. Remember how many times He said, “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” These were the teachers of the Law, the ones who had taken it upon themselves to interpret the word of God for the people. Yet Jesus indicated that it was the poor in spirit who would inherit the kingdom of God, Matthew 5:3. Jesus said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” Matthew 11:25, Luke 10:21 also.
Those who consider themselves wise in this world find the word of God a stumbling block, unable to accept that their wisdom is nothing compared to God’s wisdom. I’ve known people that I say have educated themselves right out of Christianity. They achieve so much knowledge and worldly wisdom that they think God is no longer relevant to them. Heinrich Heine said, “I’m no child. I do not want a heavenly father any more.” James Martineau said, “We asked Compte to lift the veil from the holy of holies and show us the all perfect object of worship. He produces a looking glass and shows us ourselves.” That’s our society today. We are our own gods.
I have to say, from my perspective, if mankind is god then I despair of my life. Man has achieved just enough knowledge to make himself dangerous to himself and to those around him. It’s no wonder that among those who do not acknowledge God as supreme, suicide rates are skyrocketing. Why should I remain here if all there is to life is misery and despair?
1 Corinthians 1 has a lot to say about the wisdom of man versus the wisdom of God. Take some time to read the entire chapter in context. One of my favorite verses is verse 25, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” When we put our hope in something that is greater than ourselves our lives take on meaning that is lost when we trust in the wisdom of man.
Consider that man has confidently asserted for years that he knows how and when the world was created. The exact manner, date and timeline has changed from year to year however. I don’t see how we can have confidence in a theory that changes with the generations. What today is taught as fact in our school textbooks will be viewed as old and outdated information in just a few years. God’s account, however, has remained the same since the beginning of time. When we place our trust in God’s wisdom, it will stay true forever.
In the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah we see that God put a stumbling block in the paths of those who trusted in their wealth and their false gods (Is. 8:14-15, Jeremiah 6:21). I believe God has done the same today for those who put their faith in their own wisdom. He has allowed them their false sense of security in their own theories and beliefs. Their pride will lead them to fall, Proverbs 16:18. “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Sisters, let us remain humble before the wisdom of our God, and not be influenced by the wisdom of our generation. Do not let those who consider themselves something in our society allow you to feel that you are stupid, uneducated or simpleminded because you have faith in the one, true, living God. Romans 9:33 tells us, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Jude verse 24 tells us that He in whom we believe is able to keep us from stumbling. We simply need to be faithful and continue in the hope of His salvation, “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5
By Fern Boyle
Fern Boyle is a homeschooling mom of six kids who lives in Enid, Oklahoma. Her husband, Doug, is an elder in the church of Christ at Garriott Road, and a pilot in the military, having served in both the Marine Corps and Air Force. Their time traveling from coast to coast has blessed them with friends in the church all across the country as well as many opportunities to grow as Christians. Fern enjoys running, hiking, reading and teaching ladies Bible class. She used to have other hobbies but then she had more kids. Her children are what she loves most, however, watching them grow and develop into wonderful young men and women.