Saturday, August 27, 2016

Knowledge or Truth?

If you have the Son, you have eternal life. If you do not have the Son of God, you are not acquainted with true life.  (I John 5:12 VOICE)

As John wraps up his letter to the believers in the New Testament church of the first century, he is attempting to confront a belief system known as gnosticism.  In general, the belief perpetrated by the gnostics of the day valued the gaining of knowledge in ever-increasing way because knowledge broadened one's understanding and they believed a broader understanding would help you "transcend" evil. I don't know about you, but I have discovered just knowing truth doesn't mean I actually act upon it all the time!  I can have all the knowledge in the world, but until my heart is changed, which affects the choices I make, I will still continue to do dumb things!  As John puts it, no life comes to us by just gaining more knowledge - we need to gain Jesus, the Son of God, in order to really know life.

Most of us would agree that knowledge is important - John isn't advocating that all knowledge is evil.  Yet, knowledge alone doesn't make for life-change.  True change occurs when there is a deep, inward connection with the one who actually is truth Himself. We all have a measure by which we evaluate knowledge when it comes our way.  You could tell me the blue sky before me was actually green, but based on what I learned when I got my first box of crayons, was "studying" colors in kindergarten, and mastered my color wheel in art class, the color before me most closely resembles the blue in my crayon box!  I evaluate what you tell me against what I have already gained as knowledge.  When the gaining of knowledge has been correct, the tool by which I measure all you tell me is going to be more consistently "correct". If that knowledge is a little skewed in one direction or the other from what is total truth, I am going to use a flawed tool to evaluate the knowledge you are trying to convince me is true - making me susceptible to accepting untruth.

As John states earlier in this chapter, "To love God means that we keep his commands, and his commands don't weigh us down." To some of us, we might feel as though God's commands are a weight around our necks - keeping us from doing what we really want to do.  They are a burden, not a delight.  We don't appreciate their value, nor do we see the boundaries they set as warranted in our lives.  At some point after we ask Jesus into our lives, we begin to see these commands from a different perspective - because our understanding of truth is impacted by the presence of truth within us. Apart from Christ, we cannot truly evaluate truth. We might come close on occasion to making an accurate judgment apart from Christ, but reason and intellect will only get us so far in keeping us in alignment with truth.  We need the person of truth within in order to really live as we should.

"True life" is only known in Jesus.  Until you have experienced it, you just cannot appreciate that truth all that well.  It doesn't make sense to evaluate truth solely based upon our own knowledge. Each of us possesses a different perspective on how we don our clothing each morning.  No one is more "right" on the matter than the other person.  We all end up with our clothes on in some fashion or another, so we can walk out in public without shame or finding ourselves arrested for indecent exposure!  Some will wear socks, others will not.  Is one person "right" and the other "wrong"? It could be we are both right - but we arrive at that conclusion by the degree of knowledge we possess at the moment.  Even those who have invited Jesus into their lives don't "get" all the knowledge they have at their disposal, though.  It takes us a while to "undo" things we have come to accept as truth - but in time, the presence of truth within begins to realign our beliefs and practices so that we are closely aligned to the truth which resides within.

The important thing is that we invite truth in - not in the form of book learning or schooling, but in the form of the Son of God, the person of truth, becoming the center and focus of our lives. As we do, all truth begins to align in our lives - we don't get truth and then transcend into a new dimension by some means.  We "transcend" by connection - not by knowledge.  Just sayin!