Knowing Stuff

A few years ago I made my first trip to San Francisco. There is so much to see and do in the area. A resident, someone who should know, said I simply could not be in San Francisco and leave without eating at the famous In-N-Out Burger, California’s first drive-thru ham1948-Store1Bburger stand. The Double-Double burger, real ice cream milk shake and fresh hand-cut French fries were, indeed, delicious if not a bit too filling.

What if people went into this restaurant, but never came out? Stipulate that the product is good and the people inside are a fun lot to be with. Nevertheless, would it be healthy to turn the In-N-Out into the In-NEVER-Out? Do you think the same might be true spiritually?

Is it possible to acquire biblical knowledge to the point of biblical obesity? Not if that knowledge is used to become like Jesus, help others know and grow in Jesus, and to help the world become a better place to live in until it is fully restored by Jesus’s Second Coming. At times it is not the amount of knowledge gorged on, but the attempt to control through knowledge that is problematic. What follows is an example.

The Gnostics were followers of a variety of religious movements in the second century. The emphasis on salvation through gnosis (Greek) or ‘knowledge’ was among their core beliefs. If they could discover the secret, special knowledge, they would be saved. Much research points to their demise in the fourth century, but I wonder. Is the emphasis on Biblical knowledge today sometimes promulgated by the genuine if not misguided desire to discover within the Bible a secret knowledge which once learned will save? This is a different knowledge than the general revelation of God’s offer of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Gnostics sought knowledge which would put them in control of their destiny rather than God.

A different type of knowledge is revealed early in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. There it says Adam knew “yada” (Hebrew) his wife, Eve. It describes a relational versus an intellectual knowledge. It is not about control. It is about a person.

Knowing stuff about a person does not mean you really know a person. I know a lot of stuff about George Washington and Barak Obama, but I cannot truthfully say I know them or they knew or know me. When you know someone, learning more about them deepens the relationship. Knowing stuff about a person without a relationship fills the mind but never the heart.

A full life comes from knowing people, not just stuff about them. It requires sacrifice, tenacity, commitment, and love. Knowing people can lead to disappointment and emotional pain. Nonetheless, the risk is worth the reward. Invest your life in others as God directs, enables, and empowers. Although a single investment may later prove to be a bust, over time the return on multiple investments more than compensates for the occasional loss.

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