The history of the Oracle at Delphi has the feel of an old fairy tale, but in reality it is much darker. The Oracle's famous symbol was that of a snake, Pythia by name, and it traced back to Greek mythology and underworld deities. However, this pagan cult reached far beyond the borders of Delphi. When Paul was in Philippi, he encountered a slave girl whose psychic powers were connected to Pythia (this is not obvious in our English translations but it is in the Greek) and the Oracle of Delphi (Acts 16:16-24). The encounter seems brief but underscored with all the intensity of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller. Apollo's Temple has only a few columns standing and the glorious treasuries that once lined the Sacred Way are remembered by only a few stones. But Delphi was anything but harmless in its heyday. Even the church, especially the believers in nearby Corinth, struggled with its influence upon worship and the understanding of God's wisdom. Yet Paul confidently wrote that though the world may consider the Gospel to be foolish, it held the power to release men from evil (1 Cor. 1:18-25) endow them with true wisdom. And in God's power Paul healed the slave girl with the python spirit.
The ancient voices of Delphi claimed they held the answer for those seeking wisdom. They claimed they had the power to reveal the destinies of the great and small. But their wisdom was costly, not just in the monetary sense as the treasuries and offerings testify, but down to the seekers' very souls. Those voices still cry out today and people are still eager to listen to them. From stock market and financial gurus, exercise and fitness experts, to doctors, analysts, and spiritual leaders, and everything in between people are seeking solutions to the questions they face in the course of life. More often than not they come to realize these sources do not offer the long term peace or wisdom they actually seek. Even believers can get sucked into thinking these worldly "wisdom-givers" have solutions to the questions life brings their way.
Are these sources really the place where we should be seeking wisdom? And is this truly the wisdom we should seek? Paul considered our source of wisdom to be different. He wrote, "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom; but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." (1 Cor. 2:1-5)
Although there are many voices today proclaiming to offer wisdom, the believer must turn his or her ear to Christ. While others seek answers from conventional sources, believers find their answers in Christ, the most unconventional source of all in the eyes of the world. Some people still seek other worldly signs for direction, and some people will insist on relying on the knowledge of the experts, but for the believer there is only One source of true wisdom and guidance, and that is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:26-31).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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