Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him’— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.
One of the interesting things that sociologists of religion tell us is that people in our society are spiritual but not religious. Folk are interested in a range of spiritual things but don’t see themselves as religious. All those folk who like mindfulness don’t realise that it’s a form of meditation. A friend of mine once told me of the Buddhist meditation group he attends (in a former Methodist chapel) where they meditate each week, have a box for donations and a rota for the tea and coffee. He went on to tell me he wasn’t religious….
Paul talks long and hard about the spiritual realities of life, comparing and contrasting them to the wisdom of the world. Spiritual truths counter the wisdom of our age – the first don’t want to be last after all. The Lord of Life was put to death as a threat to the status quo. And yet our people long for spirituality; they don’t dream they will find it in a church.
Maybe that’s because we spend longer talking about pulpit supply, rotas, the building or the budget than we do about the spiritual. My born again Buddist friend was longing for a spiritual practice, having found it he then mucked in with all the normal stuff.
Perhaps my church might have attracted him if we’d talked more about the things of the Spirit.
In you O God do our hearts find their rest, in your are our longings stilled, our hunger sated and our thirst quenched. Help us to speak of the truth we live, that our people might be saved. Amen.
The Rev’d Andy Braunston ministers with four churches south of Glasgow in the Synod of Scotland.