Sir Francis Bacon is credited with the famous quote – “knowledge is power”.
Sure we want to know. We all want to know stuff. No one wants to be a doofus. In many situations in life, knowledge is indeed powerful. But, what concerns me is the deception I feel many Christians have bought into, especially it is especially prevalent in our Western culture.
We have bought into the concept that we are growing as a Christian if we are getting more knowledge. We pursue reading more Christian books, attending more seminars and small groups that study someone’s new DVD series….so we can learn more. I have endured conversations between men, and even couples, that center around what new book or study or seminar someone has read or attended. It is as if we feel more powerful or enlightened from having attended. “Oh yes, I have read that – or attended that” – makes us feel very progressive. We are growing mightily because we read or attended and filled in the blanks.
My question remains – but what have been the results of attending? Did it change your life, your marriage, your approach to following Christ? I can’t tell you how many seminars and small group studies I have attended over the years and dutifully shared “what I got for question #3, or what I gleaned from Chapter 7. I was a gold medalist at filling in blanks and taking copious notes. But you know what happened? When I completed the study, I took the book home (full of completed blanks) and put it in the bookshelf or bedside table….never to be seen again. I was enlightened and equipped for a very short time, but then dutifully sank back into my selfish, me-centered existence. Did I really grow (make progress) in my walk with Christ? Was my life or my marriage forever changed?
What’s the point, you ask? I’m glad you did…….
The Bible is full of references on knowledge, and how we need it desperately. I am not advocating the avoidance of knowledge or learning. We need to read, study, attend, fill in blanks and take copious notes. What I am afraid is being missed is that knowledge is not the goal.
John 5:39-41 (ESV) – 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
The Pharisees had knowledge. They knew all about God. They knew and memorized the Scripture. They knew and followed the law. Jesus didn’t chasten them for having great knowledge. But Jesus told them they were missing the most important thing – “you refuse to come to ME that you may have life“.
Did you see that in the verse? I added the underline just in case. Jesus said – “you know very much about me, but you don’t know me (personally).”
Jesus said “I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life”. Great Christian books, studies and seminars contain God’s truth – and that is great. But, they are no substitute for THE Truth. Like the Pharisees, we have fallen for the subtle deception that we are doing well as believers by following a type of truth, and can easily miss THE Truth, and our personal, intimate relationship with Him.
I was the chief among the deceived a few years ago. Sadly, I must admit that I had succumbed to the deception myself. I was sitting in my large church, among my great Christian friends, listening to a great sermon – and dutifully filling in the blanks in my bulletin notes – WHEN the Spirit slapped me in the face (it really did seem pretty abrupt) and I heard Him say – “you are a mile wide and an inch deep“.
I pondered those words as we went home and ate lunch. The Lord showed me all the good “things” I was doing in His name (and there were many), but He broke my heart when He showed me what I was missing by not truly, deeply, intimately knowing the One I was working so hard for. I was crushed. But, in His mercy, He showed me that what really matters is the relationship and that everything else would flow out of that. (Matt. 6:33)
When Jesus was asked what it took to follow Him (be his disciple; a Christ-follower – Christian), he never said anything about learning more, attending more, acquiring more knowledge, or taking great notes. He simply said – “follow me”.
Let’s all learn all we can about our amazing and gracious Savior. But let’s never let that overshadow the quest to spend time WITH Him, in His presence, at His feet. It is there He promises to give us Life (Himself) – and that’s really all we need ….. isn’t it?