This week the stock market had the flu. It was in bed with a fever for a day, worrying about the Coronavirus. Whether you noticed that or not, the thing to remember is that the stock market isn't the economy. If you become unemployed or lose your health insurance, that's the economy (a word which comes from the Greek for household). People make the same mistake with the word "wisdom." We tend to think that wisdom is about being smart. No. It's about being in sync with spiritual things. Those who think that wealth = happiness, the stock market = economy, and smarts = wisdom, will have a hard time accepting the wisdom of the cross or what Jesus was doing when he blessed the poor, those who mourn, the meek, etc. Jesus’ wisdom involved knowing suffering, being willing to serve others, and having a pure love for truth and beauty. The world’s wisdom involves avoiding failure, demanding concessions from those who serve, limiting the truth we tell ourselves or others, and believing that cost determines value (beauty).
I was struck this week by the way the opening of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians parallels Jesus’ opening message to the people of Galilee in the Sermon on the Mount (there is a three fold chord if you look at Luke 4:16-19, Jesus’ sermon in his synagogue). Paul notes that the Gospel of Jesus is understood and received with joy by those of no account in the eyes of the world. It is those who have never had authority in this world, whom Jesus and Paul appoint as the first leaders of the church. Lifting the burdens of the poor and outcast becomes primary for the early church, because it was a task that they understood from experience. The capacity of the first Christians to understand their mission field, be compassionate, and be transparent about what Jesus had done in their own lives, made them effective at evangelism. Jesus and Paul understood the difference between doing things for the poor and doing mission with the poor.