Need or Knowledge

need

Luke 8:10 So He said, “The secrets of the kingdom of God have been given for you to know, but to the rest it is in parables, so that

People who come to Christ out of knowledge rather than need are at risk of a mere mental ascent to religion rather than a Christ-clinging relationship.

Last Friday, I was sitting in chapel in the Upper Room at the mission. A local pastor was preaching the truth fervently – that without death and a new life in Christ, sin will dominate us. It was a great message packed with passion. As I looked around at faces, I saw apathy in some, resistance in others and a few I thought fearful. I couldn’t help but think, “If they just knew the liberty on the other side of that death. If they could only know the joy that permeates that new life with Christ, then maybe they’d take the leap of faith!”

After reflecting on this passage in Luke 8, I’m not sure my message is the right message to preach at all.

People who come to Christ out of knowledge rather than need are at risk of a mere mental ascent to religion rather than a Christ-clinging relationship.

Here’s another way to say it: Knowledge of a better life might lead us to chase one, but it’s a need to be saved that actually gets us there.

I think it’s what Christ was intending for us to grab hold of as He referred to this passage from Isaiah 6.

Isaiah 6:10 Dull the minds of these people;
deafen their ears and blind their eyes;
otherwise they might see with their eyes
and hear with their ears,
understand with their minds,
turn back, and be healed.

Dull minds? Deafen ears? Blind eyes? Why?

Relationship. God’s discipline or judgment on earth is always intended to bring people into a position of need for Him, the point where real relationship begins.

But the verse indicates that God is intentionally holding revelation of the truth (knowledge) from people, truth that could save them.

Yes. It seems unjust at first glance, but consider that God is interested in the means to an end, not just the end. For people to turn from their wicked ways because they know life could be better or some other worldly motive may be good for the world but doesn’t line up with God’s divine plan; that we would turn to Him out of need. Consider Romans 11:32 “For God has imprisoned all in disobedience, so that He may have mercy on all.”

He wants us to realize our need for His mercy.

In the passage, God is judging Israel and has one thing on His mind; a return of His people to right relationship with Him. That’s always on His mind. He longed for them as He longs for every one of us to cry out to Him with true revelation of our depravity and fallen condition, a deep recognition of our need for a savior.

He wants relationship.

Consider that relationships are formed foremost out of need, not knowledge. I’m not in relationship with my mother or father because I know them, but rather I need(ed) them. Eve wasn’t formed for relationship with Adam out of knowledge. It was out of need. Even within the body of Christ, relationships are based in need rather than knowledge: 1 Corinthians 12:21 reads, “So the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’”

We do need each other and I would argue that need is the basis of all relationship. Certainly, over time, we do come to know each other but if knowledge of relationships led to fulfillment, the psychologist and sociologist would never feel lonely.  We need relationship.

(If my greater need results in His greater mercy and His greater mercy results in my greater love, and that greater love results in a greater life, then I welcome His plan to make me need!)

We preach there is a better life.  Unfortunately, the imbalance of the message has provoked millions to attain it. Short term mission trips, Sunday and Wednesday attendance, obedience to the Sabbath, volunteerism, self-denial and even sacrifice can all be part of the humanistic ascent to godliness, the attempt to climb to that better life we preach.

Maybe they heard, saw, or understood and then knew.  But to enter in by way of knowing rather than needing is to enter in by some other way than the one which leads to the very life of which we preach and for which we hope.

To feel blinded, deafened or dulled in understanding may only be God mercifully keeping our horse before the cart – to need before we know.

Wisdom Proven

let go photo: let go LETGO.jpg

Luke 7:35 “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

This statement’s a bit mysterious. Who are the children of wisdom? And how is she “vindicated?”

Wise decisions bear “children,” offspring or fruit that vindicate wisdom or prove those decisions wise. Consider though that as the outcomes of wisdom prove wisdom, so also do the outcomes of foolishness prove foolishness.

We all make bad decisions. Enough bad decisions prove us fools.  When we make wise decisions, we’re proven wise.

At the fork of every opportunity is a wise option.

Sometimes, however, that wise option is in stark and direct contrast to a foolish decision we’ve made in the past.  This becomes a crossroad. Proceeding down that path of wisdom is also to admit you were a fool.

No one likes to do that.

The Pharisees certainly didn’t. In verse 30, we learn that they “rejected the plan of God for themselves” because they “had not been baptized by (John).”

They chose to hold onto what they had done wrong (rejecting John’s baptism) instead of embracing what they could do (accept the plan of God for their lives.)

It’s a choice we all have to make. Do you want to hang on to and live with what you’ve done? Or do you want to live for what you can do?

There is a deeper truth hidden here, too. One of the many things that separates man from animal is the desire to be right.

I remember when I was trying to teach one of my sons how to dribble a basketball.  The red-faced frustration he exhibited didn’t stem from the difficulty of the task, but the fact I was trying to correct him. “No, no. That’s not right” was countered with an angry, “Yes it is!” To give him some credit he was only about three. But his behavior at that young age proves the point: There’s something innate in us that longs to be right, even perfect. And the lack of this perfection or justification is a void that we should celebrate! Rejoice in that weakness! It testifies of a Creator with a plan to redeem us all, to justify us all, to perfect us all.

My son stubbornly refused to admit he was wrong and continued in his error.  We’re all prone to that very pattern through our entire lives.

So what’s the key to living for what we can do rather than hanging on to what we’ve done?

Repentance.

Repentance is more than just changing what you’re doing. And it’s even more than letting go of what we’ve done to free us from the grip of the past.  It’s also changing your mind, your view and your direction about where you’re going. At least in part, it is to no longer live with what you’ve done and to begin living for what you can do.

The void or vacuum to be right was no greater or less in the Pharisees than it is in you and me. We can unsuccessfully and artificially fill that void by living with the wrong we’ve done (claiming it was right), or we can repent, choose God’s plan and allow Christ to fill that vacuum with His righteousness.

Don’t miss it like the Pharisees in Luke 7. You don’t have to hang on to what you’ve done. Let it go, move on and begin living for what you can do.