Back in the day, which wasn’t a Wednesday as comedian Dane Cook has said, but rather, was a Thursday...wow, that got off track quickly, haha! As I started to say, back in the day, I once got into a heated discussion with an uncle of mine. I wasn’t super close with Uncle John (RIP), but after my sperm donor (John’s brother) had passed away, John reached out and tried to form a relationship with me. Even though I really didn’t know my father or his siblings all that well, I’m not a total asshole. So we started communicating. Things were nice for a bit. Uncle John was a Christian and had studied theology and the Bible for much of his life. Knowing this, I figured he would be a great source of wisdom in my walk with God (Proverbs 4:6-7; “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”)
Then came “the post.” The state of California was having a vote on gay marriage in an upcoming election, and I decided to make my stance on the issue firmly known. This blog isn’t about gay marriage, but for informational purposes, “the post” let everyone know that even as a Christian man who tries to model my life after the God of the Bible, I very much support my LBGT friends who wish to get married to their partners. After reading “the post,” Uncle John (being the Bible scholar that he was) had PLENTY to say that combated my views and opinions on gay marriage.
Back and forth we went, verbally sparring as two Christian men who believed in the same God, yet had very opposing views on this social issue. He came at me with scripture condemning homosexuality, I responded with scriptures pointing to loving others the way Christ loves them. The discussion got rather heated, to the point where we both said some things that shouldn’t have been uttered. At some point in this now argument, things diverged from the original topic of my post and went in a whole different direction, with my uncle asking me “How do you know that God is real?” and then playing devil’s advocate as I tried to explain what I knew to be true.
As the argument waged on, I was seeing a man in my uncle who had a lot of book knowledge but didn’t seem to have a personal relationship with the God he followed. John’s life was so devoted to attaining knowledge about God through intensive study of scripture, that it seemed to me that he had forsaken actually knowing God on a personal level. I can’t lie, my uncle’s knowledge of scripture was impressive, but it was also frustrating. As we were going back and forth, my heart started to hurt for him (even as he was angering me) because he seemed so devoid of that personal relationship. John wanted me to explain to him through the use of scripture how I knew that God is real. I kept telling him that I believe God is real based more on life experience than scripture. I even gave my uncle extensive examples of specific moments where I believe God spoke to and through me and has intervened in my life. “But how can a non-believer know that your experiences are real? If it’s not in scripture, how is the non-believer to know that GOD is real?” Over and over and over he came at me with that same argument.
Last night, I posted a video on Facebook from a Christian metal band named Demon Hunter, called “Jesus Wept.” The final phrase of the chorus states “I’m why Jesus wept.” I find this to be a very powerful statement. Once again, however, I found myself embroiled in a heated discussion with another follower of Christ over an opinion I offered up. His take is that the phrase in Demon Hunter’s song is a very selfish and wholly untrue statement. I was told that we need to have a world perspective more than a “Jesus died for ME” perspective. My friend asked me to point to the specific scripture that would lead me to believe that Jesus actually knew what sins I would commit 2,000+ years after His crucifixion that would lead Jesus to weep on my behalf. My question is this: how are we to go into all the world and preach the gospel (the Great Commission), sharing the love of the Father with others, if we haven’t had a personal experience and developed a personal relationship with the Redeemer in the first place? Anyways, once things started progressing into a theological debate, I said, “I love you, peace out.” I wasn’t trying to be rude, but I have absolutely no interest going head to head with someone who has extensive (and again, impressive) book knowledge, yet doesn’t seem to be able to take personal emotions or experiences into account when discussing things of a spiritual nature. I learned that lesson with Uncle John.
Listen, studying scripture is a wonderful thing! I’m not condemning that in any way, shape or form. 2 Timothy 2:15 says “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We are implored to study God’s word in order to gain wisdom. Likewise, I am not against fruitful conversations of a spiritual nature. There are many great things that come out of theological discussions. That said, in both the examples I’ve written about in this blog, it seemed that the study of scripture and theology was given more importance than having a personal relationship with the God of all creation. I believe that to be the opposite of wisdom. What good does all the knowledge in the world do if you don’t develop relationship with people? How can we expect people to gain wisdom from what knowledge we have (and vice versa) if we can’t relate to them on a personal level? Often times, I think people get confused between knowledge and wisdom. Both are great, and both are necessary, but if I had to pick and choose between the two of them, I’d choose wisdom. Wisdom doesn’t just rely on how much you know, but rather also counts on a person’s ability to navigate through situations that may involve such things as emotions and understanding circumstances.
The scripture contained within the Bible is a helpful tool in our search for knowledge and understanding of who God is, and how we are called as Christians to live our lives. However, if you’ve gained all the biblical/theological knowledge there is to be attained, and yet don’t develop a personal relationship with the Creator of all things in the process, what have you really gained in the end?
Demon Hunter: Jesus Wept