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Obedience has a valuable place in the Christian life, and a place in the journey towards personal freedom.
It may be counter-intuitive to defend obedience. However, for all of us, there is a valuable place for obedience to God. It’s tempting to think if we had the freedom to do exactly what we please we’d be completely happy and fulfilled. But that kind of ‘freedom’ doesn’t work: frequently we can’t even see what would be in our best interest. Often even when we can see what’s best we have too little willpower actually to do it. Worse, many of us get trapped in repetitive patterns of self-destructive behaviour. Often, these are subtle patterns of behaviour that are nevertheless as damaging as alcoholism.
Christianity promises to make us truly free (although it never promises to make us independent!). We can often only be lifted out of self-destructive behaviour by obedience. Jesus healed by obedience; and by inviting us to accept His authority, Jesus can lift us from our own egocentricity and inertia…
Where shall wisdom be found? What is wisdom? Is wisdom more than clever people or scholarship? If so, how is wisdom different from learning and cleverness?
The discoveries that clever people make are often ephemeral: things need to be rethought as time goes by. Wisdom in contrast is concerned with eternal truths: truths that transcend particular times and places and paradigms.
Learning and cleverness are no guide to how to live. Clever people can be unwise and immoral. Wisdom in contrast is linked to goodness; if you want to become wise, you also need to become a good person: the paths to goodness and wisdom go side by side. In contrast to cleverness, wisdom has moral implications for how to live.
Wisdom knows its limitations. Clever people are inclined to be arrogant; the human intellect operates on the assumption that it can get to the bottom of things. But wisdom is probing at a deeper level where there are no easy answers. It ponders, for example, the ‘unfairness’ of life. Cleverness always assumes it can get on top of things; wisdom admits there are some things it will never understands. It grows deeper by pondering unfathomable mysteries…