Life lessons appear in unexpected places. I went on Wheel of Fortune in 1984 hoping to win prizes (which I did!) I did not expect to gain lasting wisdom, but that was exactly what happened during rehearsals.
When I was a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, the producer said something I will never forget. As we were preparing for the taping he greeted us with a smile as he bellowed out a question, "Who is here to win money?"
The contestants let out a collective whoop of affirmation.
His face got serious. "You think you are here to win money, but you are wrong. Don't believe me? Wait until you are on the show, when it is almost over and you have no money. Your prayer will not be- 'God let me win'. Your prayer will be- 'God, please don't let me look stupid in front of millions of people!"
He then reminded us of the smart way to play the game.
In his brief advice he identified one of the driving forces of human nature, the desire to not look stupid in front of other people. No one wants to be embarrassed.
This fact makes the words of the Apostle Paul in the first of his letters to the church at Corinth disturbing. He writes that the Christian message is foolishness to those outside of the Christian faith. He describes Gentiles (non Jewish non-believers) as people who seek after knowledge, people who pursue a full understanding and explanation of the world around them. People such as these, according to Paul, think the Christian message makes no sense at all.
Apparently, if we don't want to feel stupid, if we don't want other people to think us foolish, we shouldn't be Christians! Paul makes it clear that the "smart" people of the world cannot understand what we believe at all.
In some ways this is discouraging but in others it is not. It is a reminder that we should look to God alone for hope and encouragement. We need to live as people more concerned with the opinion of Eternal God than the opinions of mortal men.