I see a lot of wisdom passed around on Facebook. It may come in the form of a quote or an image that majestically radiates the profound words of someone, somewhere, at some point in time. I like a lot of the quotes, although many are self-focused and self-serving. What these prophetic voices lack though is a foundation.
In other words, Be Yourself is a great quote, but What is myself? How do I find myself? Even Just Do It! Just do what? How do I know if I’m doing the right thing? Again, the quotes are great, but they need a backdrop. These quotes need context, a worldview, and a framework that can confirm, support, or deny the meanings. Otherwise, they’re empty.
My favorite Medieval monk, Thomas a Kempis writes this:
The Prophets can preach the word, but they cannot bestow the Spirit. They speak most eloquently, but if You [God] are silent, they cannot fire the heart. They instruct in the letter, but You open the understanding. They set forth the mysteries, but You reveal the meanings of all secrets. They teach your commandments, but You help us to observe them. They point the way, but You grant us strength to follow it. Their action is external; You instruct and enlighten the heart. They water the seed; You make it fruitful. They proclaim the words, but You impart understanding to the mind.
Thomas is saying that God is our proper foundation to put all things in right perspective. He’s encouraging us to build on that foundation. With this solid footing, the Facebook prophets can be put in their proper place. Put another way, when God (as revealed through Jesus) is our foundation, we can begin to discern the real prophets from the false ones.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson