Dallas Willard has several lectures where he makes this point: Jesus is the wisest person to walk the face of planet earth.
He often asked audiences to name the wisest person. They answered people like Einstein, Gates, Musk, or some other current luminary.
I don’t think the crowds ever considered Jesus to be wise or intelligent. They saw him as spiritual or kind, but not wise.
Paul agreed with Willard, both contrary to the crowd.
Colossians 2.1-5 – For I want you to know how greatly I strive for you and for those in Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face.
I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
I am saying this so that no one may deceive you with plausible arguments.
For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your orderly conduct and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
True Wisdom Vs. Contemporary Culture
Gnosticism was beginning to influence philosophy and religion in the first and second centuries. Gnostic teachers had secret wisdom that allowed adherents the ability to “climb” their way back to God.
This was a belief system that Paul had to combat in some of the churches he served.
Dallas Willard confronted modern culture as a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California. I tried to read one of his academic articles and it made my brain hurt.
Both Willard and Paul knew the reality of God’s wisdom that is revealed in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
They were educated in the culture of their day, but they discovered the wisdom and knowledge of the wisest Being of all, Jesus.
Both men made it their business to make the wisdom of Jesus available to their cultures.
Knowing ABOUT Vs. Knowing
I learned from Dallas Willard that the most highly acclaimed educational institutions in America do not require their students to have a course in ethics. You can graduate from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and USC and never come face-to-face with the need to make ethical decisions.
This may account for the fact that so many well-educated Americans are willing to be dishonest in the quest for personal power, prestige, and wealth.
Another issue is that humans may know ABOUT a subject, but fail to incorporate ethical values into their lives.
It is sad to say that there are some philosophers and theologians whose minds are filled with knowledge ABOUT Jesus, but who have no personal relationship with him.
I believe it was Dallas Willard who first brought to my mind the difference between knowing ABOUT and knowing.
For example, I know ABOUT Patrick Mahomes, but I don’t know him. Some people know ABOUT Jesus, but they don’t know him through life experience.
Willard and Paul learned the wisdom and knowledge of Jesus, but not from a book. Instead, they had a genuine relationship with him.
In a relationship of worship, prayer, and obedience, they discovered the hidden knowledge and wisdom that is an essential part of Jesus’ nature.
Like millions of other followers of Jesus, they became wise and intelligent, because they interacted with Jesus on a daily basis.
Knowing and Doing
I told a friend yesterday that I want to lose ten pounds. What is standing between weight loss and my current situation is that I have done nothing to change my status.
The same can be said about tuning in to Jesus’ wisdom. We may believe all that I have written in today’s article, but this knowledge won’t work if we don’t meet in a meaningful way with him on a daily basis.
Let’s let Paul’s words make a difference in our lives today.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage in today’s YouTube video. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. You will appreciate Rudy’s insights.
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