I was privileged to attend the Conference on Preaching at David Lipscomb University in Nashville last week. This year’s topic was on the Wisdom literature from the Bible (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job, parts of Psalms, James and others) This conference has been an important part of my spiritual formation over the last 4-5 years. This year was no different. The conference had a different feel to it this year for some reason, but I still walked away sensing that God had given us a word and encouraged us to use that word to bless the world. Here are few of my take aways from the conference:
- Wisdom literature is not written for us as timeless truths. You can’t read a proverb and apply that wisdom to every situation. That would be unwise. Here is a proverb to consider: “He who knows one proverb, knows none.” Proverbs are situational truths. We know this because some proverbs directly contradict each other. For example, Proverbs 26:4, “Do not answer fools according to their folly, or you yourself will be just like them.” Now Proverbs 26:5, “Answer fools according to their folly, or they will be wise in their own eyes.” They are true for the situation in which they originate but can be applied to others. The wise person is the one who knows how to apply them.
- Wisdom literature equips people to live a good life of faith in the common, everyday kinds of life situations. We have done ourselves a disservice by not spending more time in these parts of scripture. As we have stumbled upon the blessings of grace, we need to balance that with good wisdom for living. As important as the grand narrative of scripture is, if it is not supplemented by good wisdom we will probably keep living the same problems and mistakes we always have.
- Faith without a form will fall apart. That sounds kind of like a proverb. But the point is that if we don’t have practical ways of living and applying our faith in everyday kind of life, then our faith will cease to be an important part of us. Wisdom is the stuff of everyday life. My hunch is that one reason many of our churches in Churches of Christ are struggling is that as we learned to put aside legalism as the basis of our Christian practices we lost a reason to keep the good forms of our faith. Wisdom gives us a reason to call people back to important spiritual disciplines like reading scripture and “going to church.”
It was different this year not getting to spend time with my brother-in-law. We missed being with you, Matt. However, The best part of the conference was getting to share the experience with my dad. I look forward to spending this conference with him every year. We have great conversations about what we are learning and how we can apply some of it back home in our ministries. It was fun and valuable getting to learn about wisdom with one of, if not the, most important person of wisdom in my life.