As I’ve observed previously, somewhere along the line we became infatuated, enraptured, enthralled and obsessed with information.
For years we’ve had access to news 24/7. In bygone days, we waited until the 6 or 11 o’clock news to find out what’s happened in the world around us. Now it’s readily available to us at the press of the remote on countless channels. We can access hundreds of news websites filled with information, some of it balanced, some of it extremely biased. If that’s not enough, we have numerous news apps available for our smartphones.
In the “olden days,” to learn more about a particular subject, folks would trek to the library, rummage through the card catalog and find the appropriate books. If they could afford it, parents would purchase Britannica, World Book, or Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedias. But who needs those anymore when we’ve got online resources like Wikipedia, a variety of search engines, and websites devoted to virtually any topic imaginable?
We’re saturated with information. The modern Church isn’t any different. In addition to the Bible – available in numerous translations with editions aimed at almost any demographic – we have commentaries, concordances, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, not to mention thousands upon thousands of books, DVDs and audios. We have conferences and seminars, all designed to increase our biblical knowledge.
But I’m reminded of what the late Latin American evangelist Luis Palau said years ago when asked to contrast American Christians with believers in Third World countries. His comment that stuck in my mind was, “Americans are afflicted with the lust of the mind.”
Knowledge is a good thing. Certainly, the more informed we are about aspects of our faith, the easier it is to solidify our beliefs and communicate truths of the Bible to others. But as I read the Scriptures, I find the underlying message isn’t about information – it’s about transformation.
Many people with vast knowledge about the Bible don’t know the Savior presented in the Bible. Some that have consumed tons of information about doctrine and theology, when they stand before the Lord, will be greatly disappointed. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven…. Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Information and understanding are important, but without transformation by God’s Spirit, we might be merely hoarders of biblical facts and stories. We’re told in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” When we have a truly life-changing encounter with Jesus, we don’t just gain new values and perspectives; we receive new life.
That’s the message of Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God – who loved me and gave Himself for me.” To know Jesus is to experience new, transformed life spiritually.
This isn’t a concept readily grasped, even by established religious leaders. When Jesus was approached by Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council, the Pharisee was struggling to figure out who this miracle worker and spellbinding teacher truly was. When Jesus told him, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3), poor Nick was dumbfounded.
“’How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit’” (John 3:4-5). He was referring to both physical, temporal birth and spiritual, transformational birth.
The Christian life isn’t about trying harder, trying to fix or improve ourselves. It’s recognizing that apart from the saving, life-giving power of Jesus Christ, it’s an exercise in futility. As He told His followers:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener…. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-5).
When the apostle Paul admonished Christ followers in ancient Rome, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), he wasn’t urging them to seek information for the purpose of possessing more knowledge. They were to pursue a mind that had been transformed by the power of God’s Spirit.
Elsewhere Paul exhorted believers, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24).
Ultimately, God is not asking us to be good, or to become better. He wants us to be made new.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is email@example.com.