How are we to live?

Come, eat of my bread
  and drink of the wine I have mixed.

Lay aside immaturity, and live,
  and walk in the way of insight

Lady Wisdom has labored to build a house. She has prepared a rich banquet and invites everyone to come and eat. She invites the already wise, the powerful and the rich, as well as the simple, the poor and those lacking wisdom. This banquet of meat and wine and this all-inclusive invitation should be familiar to you. We are made in God’s image and here we have the essence of the invitation – to gain the wisdom of God by sitting down with lady Wisdom for a meal.

If we look at the end of the book of Proverbs, we will see the opposite. Like Wisdom, Folly also competes for followers. Both Wisdom and Folly call out to people with the same words. Like Wisdom, Folly also prepares a banquet. Wisdom serves meat and wine – things not usually consumed by common people. In contrast, Folly offers only bread and water. The verses make it clear that the meal offered by Folly is death itself.

Almost a thousand years later, Paul tells his flock in Ephesus (in modern day Turkey) to “be careful how you live… as wise people, making the most of time because the days are evil.”

Last week I posed an important question that practically demands follow up. What are the evils of our day that we may be called to confront? Let me name two.

First up: Nuclear weapons. I am the nephew of one of the Manhattan Project physicists. I not only learned a great deal of science from my uncle, but I learned the inner story of the anguish of a faithful Christian who was partly responsible for incinerating a half million civilians in a matter of seconds.

Most of us simply cannot comprehend how forty pounds of plutonium surrounded by some special water could turn Tulsa into a crater; or on a smaller scale, how another radioisotope smaller than a grain of sand, when mixed in a drink could kill a person and contaminate everyone at the bar. Yes there are peaceful uses of nuclear physics in energy and healthcare, but our political solutions to contain this lurking evil are inadequate as you will see next.

The New York Times reports that two weeks ago, 82 year old Roman Catholic Sister Megan Rice with two male accomplices broke into the inner sanctum of the Oak Ridge Nuclear Reservation in Tennessee. They made it through all the levels of security, past big signs stating that “lethal force” would be used. They made it into the control room of the highly enriched uranium facility where weapons grade uranium is processed. They managed to splash bull’s blood on the controls and hung banners outside the facility before being arrested.

If this can happen in the most secure facility in the United States, how secure do you think the forty thousand nuclear devices held by the former Soviet Union are today? Some of these devices can fit in a small suitcase and be carried by hand. Others are the size of a soda machine.

I do not share this with you as an alarmist. We all know too well that politicians will not spend the time or money on an issue until the public insists on it. In this case, the stakes are way too high for us to wait for the next disaster before we take action.

My second candidate for modern evil is the scourge of drug abuse. Right now there are several babies in Oklahoma who are in comas because they ate their parents’ marijuana. We have young teenagers who have positive drug screens for four or five controlled substances. When asked about their home life, they respond matter-of-factly about the different drugs their parents take. We have school systems that have no good alternatives for the difficult to manage students. Nowadays, the school district simply “sends” such kids to on-line schools where the bored and unsupervised adolescent eventually turns to drug abuse.

Sister Megan Rice literally risked bullets and lethal force to make her protest against nuclear weapons. While we may not be in a geographic position to do much rid the planet of nuclear weapons, drug abuse and its cousin, lack of education, are all around us. I bet you cannot find a single city block in Muskogee where there is no instance of drug abuse or lack of education.

The city is beginning to notice our new buildings, but what kind of new heart are we giving to the city? What new needs can we address? How will the people out there recognize our renewed hearts in here?

Could we take the Mother Teresa approach? Could we take the kids who have been rejected in their education? Where lacking no other alternatives, the courts send them to “on-line schools”? In most cases the kids lack the role models and discipline to complete their studies on-line. Eventually, most of them will turn to crime and drug abuse. Can we obtain grants and volunteers so that we can take on the kids who are rejected everywhere else?

If we could turn around just one kid in five, I guarantee you the community would take notice. Such work is the bread of Christ that lives forever. Such work is the work of Christ himself.

Psalm 34 tells us to “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” We have ALL the ingredients needed to turn some of our city’s rejects into productive members of society. The only thing that stands in the way is the question: “For Christ’s sake, how much of yourselves are you willing to risk?”