Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Knowledge Comes With A Price

The Imitation of ChristThomas à Kempis says in "The Imitation of Christ":
Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise...
The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely you will be judged, unless your life is also the more holy.
Now, I desire knowledge and I love to read. If I'm honest, I've found myself quoting authors or books as if doing so gives me some kind of intellectual status. I've succumbed to the desire to correct others with the intention of putting my knowledge on display.

I love how Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 8:2-3:
If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
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I bet Paul was a hoot to talk with! I can't wait to meet him someday in Heaven. I just love how he uses the phrase "if anyone imagines that he knows something," because realistically that's all it is - my imagination. What I do know is very little, even if I spend a great deal of time, money, and energy investing in it. Upon obtaining this knowledge, I sometimes think I've "arrived." Now I'm someone important.

But note the problem that à Kempis reports with knowledge: that you will be more severely judged because you know more. No wonder Christ repudiated the Pharisees! However, f I look carefully I, too, am easily enticed by the pride of knowledge just as they are. What à Kempis says is true - the more I learn, the more aware I am of the subtleties of my sinfulness.

So what's the answer? Paul says that knowing as you ought to know means loving God. This, I believe, is what à Kempis is intending when he says "unless your life is also the more holy." The only way to become holy is to love God and receive His gift of holiness. It is at this point that we are known by God.

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Hmmm. This is interesting. It's almost as if Paul makes it a choice - either we can imagine we know something, or we can love God and be known by Him. Now that he puts it like that, doesn't the pursuit of knowledge seem ridiculous in comparison with the loving relationship with God? It definitely does for me.

My prayer, as it has been before and in need of continual renewal, is that as I pursue deeper of knowledge of God, I do so with humility always remembering that it's all a gift from God and that it means nothing if it does not lead me to love Him better.


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