Tuesday, May 4, 2010

IT'S NOT WHAT YOU KNOW

A. Brother
©2010 Narrowgate Publishing


            “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony of God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
            I came to you in weakness and fear, with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”
                                                                                              --1 Cor. 2:1-5

            All my life I’ve been addicted to knowledge.  Since I was a child, knowing things was important to me.  Having information, gathering information, reading, studying, collecting data, finding out about things.  It was the way I was raised.
          And our world has gone this direction in the last couple of centuries.  Science and literature, the arts, education.  These are the holy grails of modern life.  If we can only know more, we can figure life out, and get things straightened out, and the world will be a better place.  If human beings can learn and grow in their minds, getting new information about their bodies, their minds, their world, then they will become better.  It is ignorance that has made the world the mess it is today.
          This simple, seemingly wise approach to viewing the world and its messes is actually the foolishness of man trying by his own efforts to ignore God and center the universe around himself.
          You see, worldly knowledge sits on a platform.  And that platform is the letter “I”.  It’s my knowledge that counts.  If “I” can only learn more, then “I” will change into the person “I” want to be.  If “I” can get others to learn more, or understand the facts, then “I” will get them to become better people.  If “I” know more, then “I” will rise above my peers, and “I” will move ahead in the world.  If “I” can learn this or that then “I” will make more money, or be smarter and wiser than others, or “I” will earn this or that designation or degree, or “I” will feel better about myself.
          What was the first temptation to enter the world?
          You remember Eve’s encounter with Satan, the serpent? 
          Did Satan tempt Eve with money or fame or possessions?
          No.  He talked to her about knowledge. 
          The serpent wooed Eve with the thought that she and her husband Adam could be like God, knowing the secrets of the universe, of life, of good and evil.  He convinced them that the forbidden fruit of the tree in the center of their beautiful garden was actually the Holy Grail.  That God didn’t have their best interests at heart, but that He was jealously guarding His own store of knowledge, which, if unlocked, could make man equal to God.
          It was this fruit she saw, that was “desirable for gaining wisdom” (Gen. 3:6), that she wanted and she ate, and Adam gladly ate with her.
          They wanted to be rid of their need for God.
          They wanted to be like God, knowing everything.
          You’ve heard the phrase all your life—“knowledge is power”.
          Now you know where this phrase comes from.  Satan wants us to believe this lie, as he worked on the first man and woman to believe it.
         
          But that’s not how we learned Christ.
          We should rather follow another phrase, not as the world means it, but giving it God’s meaning:  “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. 
          To know Christ is to know His love, His wisdom, His righteousness, holiness and His redemption.  God chooses to reveal His Son in us, not because we’ve memorized the Bible, or gone to numerous Bible studies, or sat under great preaching and teaching.  He chooses us because, as He created Adam and Eve to love Him and become close to Him, He has chosen us for the same purpose. 
          Our own need to be top dog, to be the smart one, to be like God in wisdom and knowledge and power—that’s our failing, and our original sin.  When we spend our lives thirsting and hungering for knowledge, we are really trying to fix ourselves, instead of letting God fix us.  We don’t want His help.  We want to assert our little brains and figure it out, and boast about that.

          “Therefore it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”
                                                                                              --1 Cor. 1:31

          It is God’s wisdom and power that count.  That’s why Paul, the highly educated, super-smart apostle, would say what he said to the Corinthian believers in this letter.  That all his education, and all his learning, profited him nothing.  That it was all about Christ, and His power, and His love, and knowing Him.  That the knowing we are to seek is the deep knowing of God at the heart level.  That God wants us to have knowledge, but the knowledge God is prepared to bestow on us is the deepest knowledge of all.  The knowing of God Himself, and friendship with Him.
          Head knowledge—whether about science, or business, or medicine, or society, or music, or art—is of limited importance.  That knowledge is just discovery of what God has already created, or man has created in his desire to be like God.
          Heart knowledge of God is the great secret that God has never kept from mankind.  Starting with Adam and Eve, He has wanted us to have this knowledge, that unlocks all the other secrets of knowledge in the universe.
          When we come to KNOW Christ, He “becomes for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”  --1 Cor. 1:30
            And, in knowing Him, as Lord, Master, Savior, Brother, Friend, we become like Him, and thus we show the wisdom of God, in all its foolishness, to the world.

          All this, because it runs counter to the world, also runs counter to most of organized ‘Christian’ religion today.  We’ve gotten so much of our current religious subculture from the world that among our holy grails is the search for knowledge about God.  Notice I said, ‘about God’.  We have succumbed to Satan’s temptation, and produce vast quantities of tools and aids to know about God and His Word.
          Unfortunately, this is an exercise in futility, testified to by the amazing lack of power from God in our churches today.  As I experienced in my life, the pursuit of knowledge, in the form of knowing more about what the Bible says, and having more knowledge of what’s going on in the world so we can ‘defend our faith’, and knowing more science so we can effectively debate atheistic science, and reading more books so we can get other men’s opinions to bolster our own and strengthen our faith—all this pursuit—is a waste of time.
          Instead, brothers, we should be knowing Christ.  Knowing Him, as in living with Him, having Him live in us, being devoted to His Kingdom first.  This is the only knowledge that counts.  It is the knowledge that brings His power into our lives, and then we boast only of Him, and His life in us.  He becomes all to us, and we no longer need to strive to build up the “I”.  He fulfills us, fills us with His knowledge and wisdom, and we understand all things, because we are spiritual men and women.

          “The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:  ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’, but we have the mind of Christ.”
                                                                                                1 Cor. 2:15,16

            So, knowing Christ in experience, not in head knowledge, is accompanied by wisdom and truth, and this is God’s wisdom and truth that begins to pervade and captivate our minds and hearts, and we become men and women of the Spirit.  The Spirit shows us all things, and anoints us with God’s wisdom and power.  We are then not subject to the worldly wisdom and knowledge around us, nor swayed by it.  We start and continue in knowing the mind of Christ, and we fill up more and more with His thoughts, His understandings, His love, His great and deep spiritual Way.
          This knowledge puts us at odds not only with the ‘holy grail knowledge pursuit’ of the world, but also of the churches.
          Our modern churches who claim Christ have held up ‘higher learning’ as something that is accompanied by a piece of paper from an accredited institution that verifies a man or woman has pursued certain courses of intellectual study and successfully completed them, even in spiritual matters.
          Yet this should really be termed ‘lower learning’.  It is just knowledge of facts, and their supposed relevance, and proves one can study, memorize, and take tests.

          Let me give a practical example. 
          Your plane has crashed in the mountains in the dead of winter in a remote area.  The survivors must stay alive in the worst conditions until help arrives.  Your flight had a large group of PHD’s, all experts in many fields, including botany, geology, physics, engineering, and assorted other sciences, and these are all alive and ready to help.  Sitting on a log nearby is a gnarled little old man, and he has nothing other than 50 years of experience surviving in the wilderness, having pioneered in a rough, unsettled land, and lived and gotten along in the worst conditions nature could throw at him.  No degrees, no book learning.  No recognition in the eyes of the world. 
          Who would you choose to follow in your quest for survival?
          Today, choose to follow Jesus, and work with those who know Him, and know His wisdom, the wisdom that He’ll give you to survive and thrive by faith—in the worst of conditions, in the storms of life, in this world of terror and instability.
          Choose knowledge—of Christ.  Because it’s not what you know, it’s Who you know!
           

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