A Better Feast
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To whoever lacks sense Wisdom says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and live, and walk in the way of insight.” (Proverbs 9:4-6)
In this passage Wisdom is like the host of a feast, inviting everyone to partake of a great meal. This feast is attractive because it is (a) open to everyone and (b) full of people who want to learn to live well. It’s an exciting experience to learn with a community of like-minded people. Many of us can think of coaches who taught us how to function as part of a team; or a conductor who trained us to excel at our instrument as part of an orchestra; or a company manager who knit together the department to achieve a major project; or a friend who invited us into their network of relationships.
Learning within a community is a powerfully shaping force. As the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer observes, God’s truth often is more influential when it comes through the encouragement of our friends:
When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.
I have experienced that in my own life. When my confidence of God’s love or commitment to God’s commands or belief in God’s truth have been deflated, the best antidote is to hear the Word of God through the words of my friends.
As a pastor, one of my jobs is to help people find Christian community. This can take many different forms – small group Bible studies, ministry service teams, accountability groups, informal friendships, business mentoring, and so on. Not every group lasts forever, of course; some groups fizzle, ministries run their course, mentorships need a break.
But that should in turn prompt us to find new groups and new friendships to help us thrive. Wisdom is not learned or practiced alone. Christianity is a team sport, played with others who are seeking wisdom – friends, families, and fellow travelers on God’s path – maintaining old relationships and cultivating new ones along the way.
And as Proverbs teaches, not only does this community make it easier for us and our friends’ to keep living well, but it deepens our experience of joy. It’s like a feast – a life filled with laughter and hope as we journey with God together.
So today, who are the people in your life that most help you to walk this path? How might you reconnect with them this week or this month, as you strengthen each other to “walk in the way of insight”?
Father, thank you for the feast of wisdom in your Word and in the community of people gathered around your Word. Surround me with brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers who can help me live well. And fill this journey with your joy as we feed on your truth. In Christ’s Name, Amen.