‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him’. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
It always amuses me when the TV produces a well-known celebrity face to pronounce on some event of the day. What made them an expert, all of a sudden? They are entitled to their opinion, of course, but that’s all it is. A famous footballer may have opinions about art or politics but it’s outside his area of expertise. (And no offence to Gary Linneker’s opinions about crisps).
But why should I trust a tone-deaf music critic?
So Paul defended his ministry at Corinth in this way: how can unspiritual people judge spiritual things? The “wisdom of the world” does not discover God. Eye cannot see, ear cannot hear, heart cannot figure out.
But these things are visible, audible, imaginable, only to the spirit.
Eternal truth is not perceived through sensation. “Eye has not seen…” True, “the heavens declare the glory of God“… but you cannot see all that glory. There are limits, and things pass. This world is transient. It is not eternal.
And neither is eternal truth reached by hearsay – “Ear has not heard…” Words are just coinage for an exchange of ideas! Just as a pound coin doesn’t suggest a litre of milk, so with words and the things they represent. So what does “Sahara” mean to an Inuit? What does “Blueness” convey to the colourblind?
And what does justice mean to the unjust? Or purity to the impure?
You receive these ideas according to the limits of your own mind. And no more.
And finally, truth is not discoverable by the heart – “nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared.”
The heart… think of the power of imagining, and the power of loving. The whole mad explosive surge of being alive, bursting out into poetry, songs, cookery… it’s all so wonderful!
And the power of sympathizing, touching hearts, caring… the sheer wonder of friendship…
And yet all this just shadows what God has for you.
First, revelation is made by a Spirit to a spirit – “God has revealed them to us by His Spirit.” “ He, the Spirit, shall take of mine and shall show it unto you.”
What makes me ready to receive what God has for me?
The Bible is full of answers. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” Are you coming before Him with reverence or arrogance? “ “If we love one another, God dwells in us.” Mutual love is the secret of God’s dwelling with us. “With this man I will dwell, even with him that is of a meek and contrite spirit.”
Do you see it? This is the language of the kingdom of God. Love, reverence, gentleness, mutual respect…
So here comes Paul: he preaches “the cross.” W hat does the cross mean? It means humility, love, self-surrender. It means putting God’s will first. It means conquering the world by loving it. It means sacrificing your life instead of keeping it.
WHAT? Not miracles? Not success? No, nothing to dazzle – nothing to captivate.
But some understand it: The humble, of heart and the loving felt that in this lay the mystery of life, of themselves, and of God, all revealed and plain. It was God’s own wisdom, felt by those who had the mind of Christ.
If you love God, He will dwell with you. If you obey God He will reveal himself to you. Not perhaps! Think of Stephen, seeing God …. Seeing the things prepared! And the whole earth fills with his glory. Right here. Every flower shot through with the glory of God.
These are “the things that God has prepared for those that love Him.”