Most of you know I’m not too great with computers. This week I learned two new phrases that are old hat to most of you—UI and OS
UI is user interface. It’s the stuff facing me that I use: icons, apps etc (like I know what an app is!), shortcuts, mouse arrows, user friendliness etc. It’s the level at which most of us operate on a computer, some better than others.
OS is the operating system. It’s the stuff at the core that drives the computer and makes it function so that I can understand and use the UI. I haven’t a clue how that works, but I know I can’t do my work without it.
It’s the same at church and in our lives. We spend time on bulletins and committees, obsess over the sermon, and click click click on buttons to get stuff done.
But what’s at our core? What drives us? What’s our OS?
James would say its divine wisdom, gentleness, and harmony…right relationships with God and each other.
James is really not a letter, it’s wisdom literature from Jewish understandings given a Christian twist. Jewish sources saw wisdom as God’s companion, who visits earth seeking people in whom to live. To them it was how God comes to earth. Christians saw Jesus as the Word of God as how God comes to earth – and wisdom, or sometimes the Spirit, as the way we learn to embody God. Hence all this wisdom talk in today’s reading. James wants us to be clear whose wisdom we use as our OS….divine wisdom, or human wisdom. What voices have priority in my life, your life, our life together?
Human wisdom centers on self and individual, so it’s marked by envy and ambition, and eventually is chaos-causing.
Divine wisdom centers on relationships, so is marked by peace-making, gentleness and flexibility, and eventually is community building.
Human wisdom is about winning; divine wisdom is about harmony.
We can see examples all over the place: in the US political arena and in international places of conflict. We see politicians outdoing one another in bellicose poses toward enemies, and partisans decry compromises that might alienate their core supporters (AKM Adam online).
We see it in our political and personal stances: we tend to think divisively, even as Christians: us and them, God on our side and against theirs.
We know it in our communities and our families—our sports teams value winning over teamwork; our families prioritize sleep on Sunday over sleep on Saturday and church on Sunday. And then complain about the negative consequences on our lives.
Rather than taking a Sabbath from what enslaves us, which was one of the original intents of Sabbath, we fill our days with busyness and noise and UI, and fail to nurture our OS.
Whose wisdom do we live by?
Wisdom comes from whoever we spend time with.
Divine wisdom comes from God, from spending time with God and God’s people and God’s creation, from holy listening to God and one another.
James says that divine wisdom reveals itself in action. For four weeks now, we’ve been coming to understand that ours is a faith based on a theology of integrity. So our words and our actions need to match our beliefs. Our OS is what’s driving our UI. Hopefully, it’s the Wisdom Operating System.
We need to always be asking ourselves what God would want us to do – with our prioritizing of time and activity, with our responses to co-workers or co- worshippers, whose wisdom do I follow?
So when talking a walk in the woods, or reading or praying, be listening for God….and learn wisdom
when in a conversation at work or in a church committee or outreach, be listening for God…and learn wisdom
We can tap into this Operating System with simple questions:
Is this loving, is this true, does this fit with what we say we believe?
when making a decision, individually, as a family, or as a congregation, tap into divine wisdom
When disciplining your children, tap into divine wisdom
When choosing which of their activities match your value system, tap into wisdom
When voting this November, tap into divine wisdom
One of my daily reflections this week from Joan Chittister said, wisdom listens first, and always to the Word of God. (and remember that scripture says that JESUS is the Word of God, not scripture). She goes on and wisdom is obedience to the greater law of love.
So always be asking, does this path, action, word, candidate, obey the law of love?
May all we are, and all we do, operate out of divine wisdom, not our own. Amen.