Intellect and Faith

Life Notes—April 25, 2013 

“Do not deceive yourselves.  If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”  I Corinthians 3:18-19a

My godson was confirmed into the United Methodist church last weekend.  I had the honor of serving as his mentor through the process.  Confirmation occurs at about age 13 and involves several months of study about the church, its history and practices, and concludes with induction into full membership in the church.  As his mentor I was given the opportunity to say a few words about him to those present at the confirmation service, as well as to pass along some thoughts specifically for him. My godson has a highly developed intellect for his age and is very analytical.  He is well beyond his years in activities like chess and mathematics. I read the scripture above and told him his intellect would serve him well, but warned that earthly intelligence will only carry him so far.  In fact, it can be downright foolishness.  Earthly intelligence focuses on what can be physically observed, leaving the unknown and unknowable largely unaccounted for.  To fully develop our intellect requires faith, because faith opens our eyes to realities beyond physical observation.  Intellect without faith is shallow, and faith without intellect is weak.  We need both to begin to reach our potential, and while he will naturally be drawn to intellectual pursuits, he (like most of us) will need to work to develop his faith in a similar manner.  Just as our two eyes, working together, can perceive depth in our field of vision that one eye alone cannot, so our intellect and faith, working together, inform our life experience in both earthly and spiritual ways.  In fact, intellect and faith may find their highest expressions in each other.

I sought a visual reminder of what I most wanted him to remember of his confirmation—some common artifact that would help his recall.  I shared it with him that night, as I share it with you today.  That reminder is the cross.  The cross consists of two elements—a horizontal crossbeam and a vertical post.  The horizontal beam can represent our intellect.  It stretches to the east and west and represents our knowledge of this world.  The vertical represents our faith, a connection between earth and heaven, the known and the unknown.  Where the vertical and horizontal meet, where intellect intersects with faith, is where wisdom begins.  That is where I pray my godson will reside.  It is where I pray we all will reside.  And it is exactly where we meet Jesus on the cross.

Tom preaches downtown about “The Power of a Single Life,” based on II Corinthians 6:3-13.  Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Mitch’s sermon at the west campus, where worship is at 9:00 and 11:00, is “What God Has Made Clean,” based on Acts 11:1-18.

Come home to church this Sunday.  We can help grow your faith.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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