Passionate Spirituality with Benedict – 2
Intelligence to Understand...
Almighty God, give us
Wisdom to perceive you
Intelligence to understand you
Diligence to seek you
Patience to wait for you
Vision to behold you
A heart to meditate upon you
A life to proclaim you;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Who lives with you
and the Holy Spirit
One God now and forever.
In this prayer we ask for wisdom to perceive God – but more than that, we need intelligence to understand.
Here's a short intelligence test: Fill in the blanks: 24 D IN A W, 26 L OF THE A, 7 D OF THE W, 12 S OF THE Z, 66 B OF THE B, 1 C ON A H T R, 1 S SHORT OF A P.... How did you do? Does it matter?
Is it possible to understand God?
We ask for wisdom to perceive God – but more than that, we need intelligence to understand Him.
What? Is that even possible? Isa 55:2 says “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord”. How can a mere sinful human being have a hope of understanding the creator and sustainer of all things? And yet...
Throughout scripture God chooses people of “understanding” to build temples, cities, rule his people. Solomon earned God's approval for asking for “Wisdom and understanding” rather than power and might. Don't be like a Donkey, says Psalm 32. Think! Thinking is Good.
Intelligence is a Renewed MindAugustine famously said “I believe that I may understand” - it is important to know that it is that way round in the life of faith. But you can't leave it out. The old US evangelist who would roar out “We don't want to theee-ology. We just want the Powwww-er of Gaaad” was on very thin ice. The Jeremy Clarkson approach to spirituality will make a wreckage in real life. The incarnation tells us that God can be expressed in all of human life – body, mind and spirit. It may be more than this -but it is definitely not less. You can't leave any of yourself out when you follow Him. He wants it all. Paul says “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” - renewal not anaesthetisation.
Intelligence is Learning from Mistakes
Questions are Good, We learn in theory and in practice – from our mistakes.
In Luke 9 we see some mistakes that people might learn from.
The “Quick fix” mistake. “Shall we call down fire from Heaven, Lord.” Yeah. Like you've been doing that for a while now, have you? Your path is singed with reluctant villages is it? Jesus rebukes them. Lesson: Don't be a twit. But also – Jesus is going to give up his life to save those who reject him. That's his whole purpose. Zapping them with judgement fire would be counter productive.
The “I can do it too” mistake. “I will follow you wherever you go”. Right. Before you know where I am going? Did you not here me says that where I am going you cannot come? You have to learnt to let Jesus be Saviour and Lord. Not you.
The “In your own time” mistake. “Let me first just.....” No. This is of prime importance. It's got to be all or nothing. Now or never. Not what I want but what you want. Now is the hour. You will not have this moment again; this meeting again; this chance again. Take it.
To understand something is to know what stands under it; what its foundations are.
For Jesus it is all about serving the Father in love.
As Father's say “When I say Jump you only ask How High?”
Jesus says “Follow me” - and he means all the way, now.
I expect we've made a few mistakes along the way?
The question is – do we have the intelligence to learn from them?
“Give us intelligence to understand you” Amen.