The title of this short blog entry is a play off of the NABS’s translation of the words found in Psalm 46:10:
Cease striving and know that I am God.
I only recently picked up the devotional book, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. A couple of weeks back I read these humble yet thought-provoking words:
‘Cease from an inordinate desire of knowing, for therein is much distraction and deceit. The learned are well pleased to seem so to others, and to be accounted wise.’
How many of us are in that place, that place of being so desirous of knowledge, we become distracted and, even worse, deceived? I know I can find myself walking that lonely path at times. Lonely not because no one else is on it, but lonely due to the fact that, for those who are on this path, they are only focused on attaining their own desire, all the while unaware of others around.
Personally, I love to study and learn. I especially love theology. And I also enjoy learning other things as well. As part of learning, I enjoying reading, for it is one of the great ways to grow in knowledge. Many times, the practical problem for me is that I am reading four or five books at the same time. Thus, I, many times, find myself trying to rush through a book, all that I can put it back on my shelf and check it off the list as another book devoured. Therefore, in a sense, I can miss the simple pleasure of slowly leafing through the pages to soak up whatever I am reading – theology, fiction, or any other genre.
There is nothing inherently wrong with learning. I believe it is an integral part of our growth as human beings, and especially as those who are followers of Christ. It is not ‘un-Christian’ to learn, even if that learning entails science, mathematics or philosophy. For God is Creator of all things, even science. And oddly enough, the word science simply means knowledge.
But in all, I don’t want to be driven by knowledge itself. I want to be driven by the heart of God. That might mean picking up a book on the inerrancy of Scripture, or the Harry Potter series, or even Dawkin’s The God Delusion. But in all, knowledge is not itself life. God is the source of life. As Jesus prayed:
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
And this life eternal begins now, for we can know God now. We must even consider that Paul made clear that the message of the cross is foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18). It’s not that God chooses to use only the unintelligent. But it’s that God is only willing to use those that will forsake whatever is most important to them, whether it be knowledge, riches, popularity or any other of the plethora of idols available. Jesus made it clear that our faith must be of a child-like, simple nature (Matthew 18:3-4). Therefore, as a friend once poetically declared, ‘I’ll be a fool to shame the wise.’
I believe Thomas a Kempis had it right to challenge us that we not get distracted nor be deceived in incessant hunger for knowledge. Nor should we be controlled by the desire to show just how knowledgeable we are. I am convinced at the end of my life I will not wish I had read more books, but rather loved God and others more. I want God more than attaining to a vast amount of knowledge. Or even more, while growing in knowledge, I want Him to be my greatest pursuit.