The book of Proverbs is one of the Bible books referred to as “wisdom literature”. We read of a father, and in a few texts also of a mother, who gives their son guidelines on how to live. The son is encouraged to seek wisdom (wisdom is often described as a woman) and there is a long list of things he should do or should avoid doing.
Wisdom is obviously a desirable characteristic. As parents, we would all like our children to follow these guidelines, to be wise.
I have to admit, however, that wisdom does not always seem like an exciting path to follow. Maybe it is something we associate with being older; with something we will leave for a time when the options are fewer.
This morning I read the prescribed text from The Message, and suddenly I saw a different perspective. Wisdom no longer seemed to be only for older or more boring people:
“(vs 3-6) Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place, and invites everyone within sound of her voice: “Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on? Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me! I’ve prepared a wonderful spread–fresh-baked bread, roast lamb, carefully selected wines. Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the street to a life with meaning.”
Wow! This is something different, exciting, life giving, abundant – this sounds like a choice I would like to make!
I wonder – is this not maybe our problem when we speak about HIV and HIV prevention, especially with young people? Maybe our wisdom, which is no doubt true and accurate, can seem restrictive and inhibiting. Maybe our language is so full of negatives that we do not show how exciting the alternative we bring can be.
The language of Wisdom in our text is the language of celebration of life, of appreciation, a language of community and life in abundance, enjoyment and fun. May the Spirit give us the wisdom to show an alternative lifestyle away from “impoverished confusion” and towards a “life with meaning”.
To think about: How do you model a “life with meaning” in a world with HIV.