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  • Writer's pictureVicar Matt Doebler

Matins Devotion: June 15, 2023

All this week, we’ve been exploring how Christ—the very Wisdom from God incarnate—is the key to unlocking the true depths and blessings of the wisdom that is spoken to us in the book of Proverbs. One of the things that jumps out to me from this morning’s readings is the theme of dualism that runs through both the proverbs and John’s gospel.

Now what do I mean by dualism? Well, essentially, it’s a way of sorting life into one of two polar opposite categories. It’s describing reality in terms of black and white with no room for grey.

We see this kind of take on life all throughout the proverbs. There are those who are wise and those who are fools. Those who are righteous and those who are wicked. Those who are humble and those who are proud. Over and over again, the proverbs paint a picture of reality that suggests that there is no middle ground. And this duality about people grates against our modern sensibilities. Just look at the stories we consume for entertainment. We want our heroes to have a dark side. We want our villains to have a sympathetic backstory. Good guys and bad guys are passé. We want morally ambiguous and complex characters instead.

But what’s this dualism we find in the proverbs really trying to get us to see about life and about people—about us? Well, again, we find the key in Christ. John’s gospel is full of dualism: light and darkness, flesh and spirit, love and hatred. In our reading from John, Christ warns his disciples that, because they are no longer of the world, the world will not love them but instead the world will hate them. There is no neutral ground when it comes to Christ. You either belong to him or you are his enemy. You either follow him or you persecute him. You either cling to his name or curse his name.

We, as those who belong to Christ, need to understand this as the world’s hatred of Christ grows more apparent and grows bolder. Make no mistake, you will experience persecution on account of Christ. The world will not be indifferent to your faithful confession because it never has been—indeed, according to the words of Jesus, it cannot be.

So be ready. And stand firm. And, thanks be to God, you can and you will stand firm. You have the Holy Spirit. The Helper. The Spirit of Truth who lives in you. The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God—the wisdom from God—and through it gives you the lips of the wise that spread knowledge in the face of the world’s foolishness. The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and through it gives you a heart of understanding that seeks knowledge while the mouths of fools feed on folly. The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and through it he makes you a wise son in whom his Father delights.

The true picture of life that we see in both the proverbs and in John’s gospel is that the world is not your friend—it will never be your ally—nor will it simply let you live in peace. Sooner or later you will feel the hatred—you will experience the persecution of the world on account of Christ. But don’t despair. Because the folly of the world will one day lead to their destruction. But you—you have the Word of God which makes you wise unto salvation. So be wise. Cling to Christ. Confess his name boldly. Never forget that your story has a happy ending.

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