Not long ago I was conversing with a man about some special understanding he had reached while doing biblical research. Actually, I use the word “conversing” loosely, since it takes two people to have a conversation and this guy definitely was not interested in anything I had to say. It was somewhat interesting, but the pontification went on for a long time. I tuned out somewhere between the genealogies, archeological findings, and where everyone had it all wrong but him.
Finally, when he took a breath, I said, “That’s interesting. How do you feel all these findings have enhanced your walk with Jesus Christ?”
I expected him to expound on proving the Bible true or God’s existence or something somewhat significant. Instead he just looked perplexed and almost speechless for a moment. Then he replied, “I don’t think it has.”
“That’s too bad,” I said. “What good is all this knowledge if it doesn’t draw you closer to God?”
As he started to spout a few more facts and data, I excused myself. My “polite-listening” gene had reached its limit. Let him bore someone else with his “special” understanding. What good is this kind of knowledge if it doesn’t enhance one’s relationship with Jesus Christ?
Knowledge, even biblical knowledge, is not synonymous with wisdom or spiritual maturity. Knowledge is merely information. If not used to edify the body of Christ, it can just “puff” you up — not build you up. And it can be incredibly boring! That “nana nana boo boo…I know more than you do” officiousness will not win souls for Christ. First Corinthians 8:1 says that knowledge may make us feel important, but love builds up the church. The purpose of knowledge and scriptures should be to point us to Jesus Christ (John 5:39, 40).
We study the Bible not so much to know about God, but rather to know God and develop an intimate relationship with him. Knowing about archeological findings might be interesting, but knowing how Jesus handled certain situations can teach us how to live. How did he treat people? How was his relationship with God manifested? Sometimes we build whole doctrines around one or two scriptures we do not fully understand and totally ignore the hundreds of scriptures focusing on believing in God, praising God, loving God, and loving one another. Did you know that the phrase “love one another” is mentioned more than 12 times in the New Testament?
Bible study is essential for Christian growth. Using other reference sources to elevate that study is commendable. No one loves a trivia tidbit better than I do. It can stimulate us mentally and cause us to dig deeper into the Scriptures. But let’s never forget that God is not looking for “head” knowledge as much as he is for “heart” knowledge. Using what we learn to draw closer to God, enhance our relationship with him, and be better representatives of Jesus Christ are ways we can use our knowledge wisely.
By Barbara Dahlgren