You have to search out true freedom with your hands and on your knees, as Australian evangelist John Smith reminds us.
Some time ago, I pointed out how being children of the television makes young Christians more shallow and uninformed than previous generations built on reading, debate and discussion. There's a lot of difference between an information age and an age of true knowledge and wisdom. I asked: where in this climate do we find true knowledge and wisdom?
Proverbs 2 begins: "My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God." What Proverbs is talking about is applying one's life to find knowledge and wisdom. They don't fall into your lap; they are not simply intuitive or natural. Basically, they come with age, experience and walking with God.
That may sound old fashioned, but I really don't think you are wise when you are very young, however sharp your mind may be. Some time ago, I noted how television produces passivity. In contrast, Proverbs 2 talks about action, with words such as store up, apply, beg, plead, call, cry, look and search. We are not to live our lives based on amusement and entertainment, but are to be thoughtfully, actively, intelligently and wisely applying ourselves to serving and reaching out to others for Christ's glory.
Some people might complain about that, so let me ask you a simple question; have you ever read your Bible through from cover to cover? I have asked that question in churches across Australia (including many prominent 'Bible-believing' ones). The show of hands is usually very small.
Young Christians have a huge commitment to achieving qualifications to assure an income, but precious little to being familiar with God through applied study of the Scriptures, or informed and relevant to their fellow human beings. You may claim to warmly love the Lord, but if you won't make the effort to dig into the Scriptures like the man digging for treasure, or search them like the woman searching for gold, you will stay spiritually and relational^ ignorant and sick.
Martin Luther King once said that the two great errors in human thinking are equal and opposite. One is the belief that we don't need God. If ever an age believed that, ours does. Yet with all our proliferation of experts on every imaginable subject - psychotherapists, anthropologists, biochemists, historians, sociologists - there is no evidence that we are getting wiser in our handling of human affairs, or more just, moral, compassionate, communicative or selfless.
The second danger Martin Luther King warned against was the belief that wisdom is learned rather than God-given. The rationalism of our age has largely removed us from that cry of the heart to God: "Lord, I want to understand; I want to know; I want you to lead me." But Proverbs 2 goes on. "For the Lord gives me wisdom, and from his mouth comes wisdom and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair -every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul" (verses 6-10).
You can be intellectually astute. You can be absolutely convinced you know what the New Testament writers were trying to say. And you can still end up void of real understanding in your heart because you fail to recognise there is a spiritual and supernatural side to coming to understand the mind of God.
True knowledge and wisdom come when we vigorously apply ourselves to searching the Scriptures, crying out on our knees to the Lord to seek the fullness of the Spirit for liberated minds to discover His thoughts.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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