How many of us heard this text and thought it was talking about ourselves. The reading starts out, 22 The Lord created me at the beginning[b] of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Kind of sounds like it’s talking about me, doesn’t it? The truth is, today’s story is talking about, and from the perspective of, wisdom.[audio http://www.buzzsprout.com/33052/281346-the-god-of-second-chances.mp3]
(The rest of the sermon, which approximates the spoken version, follows)
It’s a little odd perhaps that Solomon waits until chapter 8 to get back to the beginning of time. The very beginning. We don’t know exactly how all of this works but remember way back when in Gen 1:26? Let’s get crazy this morning and pull out the Bibles under your seats and take a look at Gen 1:26. 26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind[c] in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,[d] and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
Let US? According to OUR? Who is this other being with God during creation? Wisdom has been around for a very long time and in fact the first of God’s acts long ago. The need for wisdom is as old as creation and it is through Wisdom that God creates the world with a certain order and takes great joy in all that has been created. Wisdom teaches us to do the same, taking joy in the beauty and order of the created world and seeking to live well in it.
Wisdom comes from the very beginning of time because it is that important. For one thing, how do unwise decisions turn out? If we choose to make a bad decision instead of a wise one, how does that turn out as a rule? Is there anyone here this morning that hasn’t made a decision you knew was a bad idea but you did it anyway?
Eugene Peterson wrote a popular Bible paraphrase called The Message. He does a good job of putting the Bible into the language of regular people. The MSG is particularly on point in today’s reading. Starting a little earlier in chapter 8 than our reading, v4- “You—I’m talking to all of you,
everyone out here on the streets!
Listen, you idiots—learn good sense!
You blockheads—shape up!
Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well,
I’m telling you how to live at your best.
The author of Proverbs knew then what we knew now. We have a tendency to occasionally make bad choices. God would rather we really didn’t do that. God desires that we make good choices.
Part of the reason for that is wisdom also helps us stay out of the junk that gets in the way of our relationship with God. When we do foolish things, do we tend to turn toward God or turn away and hide in our embarrassment and shame? That is why God desires us to live with, and blesses us with, wisdom. “Clear the decks of all that foolishness so that junk doesn’t get in the way of your relationship with me” God seems to say.
And when we fail to live according to God’s will and desire for each of us, and we will won’t we? There is a loving and forgiving God right there for us. When we fail, and we will, there is confession. When we fail, and we will, there is forgiveness. When we fail, and we will, there is Christ on the cross, dying for our sins. There is the empty tomb giving us the hope of our own resurrection from death’s hold on us.
Which brings us full circle in a way. When we make mistakes it can seem like it is the end of the world for us. On the other hand, wisdom suggests that failure is not the end for us. When we fail, and we will, it is a new beginning. Another attempt to live according to the God of second chances.