The insistence on using “wisdom,” proclaimed tirelessly by many self-professed Christians to other Christians, is by far one of the crassest tools used to wiggle oneself out of the war that comes from contending for what requires great faith. Furthermore, it suggests that those who operate in great faith are imbecilic, or simply not “couth” or “abreast” on the trending grim statistics that compel some Christians to retreat into isolation or respond in fear.
Take note of how the Israelites cowered in fear when Goliath and the Philistines hurled insults against Almighty God and the entire camp of Israel. Surely, people with such blatant disregard for the name of the Lord should be feared. Right? That is the implication. Use human “wisdom” or “good sense” when the battle is that huge; use God for the smaller things that could not result in loss of property, job, money, or life.
I’ve had the heart of a scholar for quite some time, ingrained in me from childhood trips to the library with Mama. My siblings and I often won rewards for reading a specific number of books. I remember personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut and coupons for McDonalds’ greasy fries. I equated reading with a way of earning tasty treats and hot pizzas, and in later years I internalized the bigger reward of a good education and research. Mama passed this treasure of revering books and seeking the things of God to her progeny, and she exemplified the same in searching out the things of God. Sometimes I spend hours, days, weeks, preparing for a presentation or a Bible study that might take only thirty minutes. I do the same for my college students. I’ve also witnessed my faith and relationship with Christ grow through calamitous experiences and great trials. The Word of God serves as an anchor to keep me “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58).
As such, I struggle to reconcile the idea of human wisdom and great faith in Almighty God. In fact, faith requires the scholar, the intellect, the reasoner of statistics, and the analyzer of knowledge and information to lay down the books in exchange for a simple, childhood trust in God. Even more, I posit that it is more difficult for the learned person to pick up faith because the mind overloads the system with practicality and studied facts. Perhaps that is like “contending” for the faith, as Scripture admonishes the Church to do in Jude 1, because we must fight against flesh and reason for the sake of fighting for this Gospel—both in application and in evangelistic methods. What seems logical tries to overwhelm all spiritual senses in this fleshly world and body.
Scripture counsels us to “lean not to our own understanding” in Proverbs 3. Instead, we need to acknowledge God in every single decision, and trust Him to direct our paths. For the faith, we must put down our thoughts, our flesh, our schooling, our training, and our intellect. This is HARD, and it feels ridiculous at times to put everything on the line in exchange for faith. The rich man could not understand why he needed to sell everything He owned for eternal life; he reasoned in the natural for ways to obtain spiritual things (Matthew 19). Human wisdom of the flesh has the capacity to block many of the spiritual blessings God wants to give His people. Scripture also tells us that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness” (I Corinthians 3:19). It should be no secret that worldly wisdom has seeped into the Church of Almighty God. Some follow worldly trends often instead of letting the world follow ours; or worst, the idea of being peculiar people, consecrated and set apart for a higher calling is not super cool at all. We adapt worldly fashions, methods, technologies, and ideologies; yet we do not see how these things have twisted our viewpoint of faith. It is possible to become worldly without even knowing it. We must resist the desire to be conformed to this world daily (Romans 12:2).
Living for God is not following a path of faith today and human reasoning tomorrow—it’s faith always. And faith is wild. Peter started walking on water with great faith, yet he shifted and saw some rippling waves. That caused his faith to drop and his body to sink. This reminds me, daily, that I cannot allow a little sight of worldly reasoning to knock me off my path of faith. The law of science will prove through much data that humans do not walk on the tension of the water. It’s impossible, although some smaller animals have the capacity to do so. Sometimes I think God gave us science so He can constantly defy every rule in order to remind us that He is both Creator of it, and He also bends the rules as He desires. That’s the miraculous.
Furthermore, we can’t overthink faith. Just roll with the Word. Abraham took Isaac directly to the altar, no questions asked. The widow borrowed vessels from her neighbors like the prophet instructed (2 Kings 4). Just do it. If God says it, think AFTER you respond. Satan is always working to make us second guess the instructions and possibilities of God. He walks around like a roaring lion (lying), seeking whom he may devour. He did it to Eve, and he continues in that pattern today.
Several years ago, I remember sitting on the front pew at a church, waiting for the final announcements to be given before dismissal. However, we had just concluded a wonderful altar service, and the Holy Ghost remained thick in the sanctuary. A young lady was praying on the floor, and while I listened to the pastor, my spirit was very much in tune with what she was wrestling with in prayer. In fact, while most of the congregation sat and listened, the Holy Ghost stood me up and I walked over to the lady on the floor, arm outstretched, and started pleading the blood of Jesus against the demonic spirits that wrestled against her. And boy did she wrestle! As I walked toward the lady, I remember thinking, “Why am I standing up in church and walking right now?” All I know is that the Holy Ghost pulled me in that direction to intercede. More people joined in prayer for her, and it took several adult humans to hold down this individual who was writhing in superhuman strength on the floor as the demons strove against the Spirit of God.
God reminds me of moments like this and so many more I’ve encountered in the spiritual world. Even today, if I run around the church or at home in praise, sometimes I am thinking, “Girl, why are you running? You are silly.” But the more I praise and worship, the more the flesh is quieted, and the Spirit of God has liberty to speak and operate as He needs. I understand more each day the value of walking in the Spirit, so we don’t fulfil the lust of the flesh. Reasoning. Logic. I hear God loud and clear when I remain prayerful and tuned into heaven. When I start reasoning with human wisdom or just give in to the fatigue of the flesh, I hear very little from heaven. God will ask us to do what is foolish and against all medical advice even—like laying hands on the sick or those who have a highly contagious virus.
Back to Goliath.
David brought five smooth stones with him to the battle. Even so, notice that David did not tell Goliath that “I come to you with five smooth stones.” He told Goliath, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.”
In other words, Goliath, “I didn’t come to you in worldly wisdom and with full battle gear that humans are supposed to wear in war times. I’m standing here in the name of the Lord of hosts. That’s enough.”
I like to think of the stone David slung as symbolic of the Rock of Ages. Faith is wild. When have you ever seen God use logic for the miraculous in Scripture?
I believe our learning and study is useful for many reasons; it allows me to study and teach Scripture, and it allows me to give lessons to my college students. It also helps me understand humanity, among many other things.
But as people of faith, we must be willing, always, to put down our human reasoning for the sake of engaging with spiritual things. Everything about the spiritual world requires faith to see, experience, and obtain, and the weapons to contend for the faith are not carnal.
I think we all fluctuate, at times, between human reasoning and faith. That’s why we must die daily to the desires of the flesh. Often, we might look at fleshly desires in terms of sin and lust, and it does lust for such things. More so, as people of God, I believe our flesh lusts for practicality, for explanation, for some logical sense of how to solve problems and deal with day-to-day life. However, as aliens in a country that is not our home, we must operate by Kingdom principles daily in order to properly disperse the message of the Kingdom and make it safely Home, full of faith, to be with our Lord Jesus Christ.