Knowledge is power.
I can’t remember the first time I heard this phrase, but I most certainly believed it. Coming from a low-income family, living in some rough neighborhoods, I longed for life to be different. It’s likely because of the area I grew up in that education was pushed as the path to unlocking a better future and life than the one I was raised in. And I most certainly bought into what was being sold.
Because of that, I joined the after school program designed to help students prepare for college. This program was a large part of my life from middle school on through high school, and I can honestly say without this program college wouldn’t have been possible. Throughout my college career, the idea that knowledge can solve much of our world’s problems was subtly ingrained in my worldview. But it wasn’t only in college I was hearing this message. It was in my church, too.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. The temptation to trust in the power of knowledge rather than the power of God is sprinkled throughout the bible.
In western culture, we’ve become more sophisticated in our lack of trust in God. Instead of fashioning our graven images out of wood and gold, we place an emphasis on education. No, we can’t relate to the Israelites’ outlandish ways of idol making. We are more sophisticated like the Greeks, who turned to philosophy.
Regardless of the way our lack of trust takes shape in our daily lives, we have to admit it’s presence. Even in our most noble efforts to educate ourselves and others for the sake of the Gospel, our desire is often to maintain control rather than truly trust that God can redeem this world.
Just like a fish, it’s hard to see clearly when the water you’re swimming in is all you’ve ever known. I’m not suggesting we throw out the use of knowledge and education, but we have to see the way we rely on it to do the work only God can do. What may seem harmless has a far greater impact than we can imagine.
‘If People Would Just Know Their Bible…’
I know this idea will make some a bit squeamish, but simply knowing your bible better isn’t the answer to the world’s problems.
There are many Christians who look down on other believers because they don’t know their bible well enough or they attend a church that isn’t “preaching the word.” I think these statements are used far more than they ought to. They are often wielded at other Christians and churches carelessly. With that being said, the simple knowledge of scripture is not the solution to the many struggles we face in our world.
After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, he went to the wilderness. It was during this time of prayer and fasting, Satan tempted Jesus to walk away from his mission. This scene reveals Satan’s knowledge of scripture. He quotes Psalm 91:11-12 and Deuteronomy 6:16 to Jesus.
There are many reasons for Matthew highlighting this part of Jesus’ life, but what we can see is that simply knowing the bible and memorizing scripture isn’t what transforms lives. It’s the Holy Spirit working through the word of God in the hearts of people that brings about redemption and transformation.
To place a greater faith in the knowledge of scripture than the power of God to change lives is the opposite of what God intended his word to be.
The power is not in reciting the bible. The power is in the one who spoke the world into existence, who formed humanity from earth, and who is actively restoring and redeeming our world.The power is not in reciting the bible. The power is in the one who spoke the world into existence, who formed humanity from earth, and who is actively restoring and redeeming the world. Click To Tweet
‘If People Would Just Know the Truth About Abortion, Racism, Etc…’
History shows that humanity has a way of mistreating and dehumanizing fellow image bearers. You don’t have to be a Christian to recognize in the depths of your soul that it shouldn’t be this way.
As believers, we understand that intrinsic value is placed within every man and woman, because this is the way God designed it to be. Yet the evil that resides in the hearts of people leads them to mistreat, abuse, and dehumanize others.
This evil plagues our society even today. Rampant abortion and racism are just two examples of people mistreating other people. But the argument is never that simple, and the web is deeply tangled. It’s hard to see how we can ever be free of the abuse and mistreatment of other humans.
Many of those trying to make a difference in these areas turn to the strategy of education. If people just knew the truth of how horrific, damaging, and unethical abortion, racism, and the many other social issues we face are, then certainly things would change. But that isn’t necessarily the case.
There is certainly value in education, especially in these areas. We must start somewhere. But mere knowledge will never solve all of our social issues.
Some years ago, I committed 40 days to standing in front of and praying for my local Planned Parenthood. During this time, I realized a lack of education or information wasn’t ever the driving force behind many of the decisions being made behind those doors. It was far more complex and nuanced than that.
I had a conversation with one woman who understood there was a life growing inside of her, but she stood behind her right to choose what played out in her life—the right to choose what happens with her body. There was another woman who also understood life was in her womb, but she was nineteen, in an abusive relationship, had no family support, and was unsure if she could even provide for herself.
These two women were aware of the truth about abortion. I don’t know how their stories ended, but I know that their view on abortion wasn’t going to change based on education. It had to be something more than that.
There are countless stories of other social ills that aren’t a result of a lack of information, education, or awareness. Education campaigns are helpful and necessary, but they can only go so far. What our world is in desperate need of is surrendering our hearts and lives to Jesus.
Even as people who desire to see social change, we must rely on the power of God to change the hearts of our family, neighbors, community, nation, and world. And we should be willing to be used in the process.There are countless social ills that aren't a result of a lack of information, education, or awareness. Click To Tweet
The Call for More Knowledge Is a Front for a Lack of Surrender
Unconditional surrender is more than just hard—it’s unnatural. It requires full reliance on, trust in, and letting go to someone else. This is the invitation of Jesus. He calls us to not maintain a conditional-based surrender.
There should be no backup plan.
Education, more knowledge, and information is the backup plan of the western church. We know God can change the world we live in, our families, and ourselves. But we aren’t sure he will. So, just in case he doesn’t, we want to help move the process along by calling for more education.
We enjoy our safety net, because it gives us a measure of control. Education can be a tool used by God to carry out his will, but it isn’t the ultimate solution. Filling our heads with more knowledge and forcing it down the throats of others will not change our world. It always has been and always will be the power of God working through the surrendered hearts of humanity to bring about true transformation.God is calling us to total surrender. There should be no backup plan. Click To Tweet