Thursday, July 12, 2012

What to Do With What We Know

Thursday, July 12
Scripture Reading—Colossians 2:1-5

This passage concludes the introduction of this letter to the church at Colossae.  It indicates Paul’s devotion to his mission, his love for the churches he helped begin, as well as ones like those at Colossae and Laodicea that were started by others.  Paul sees his suffering as a necessary feature of faithfulness to his calling.  Paul’s passion for his work, the reason for his willingness to suffer so much, and his constant motivation was to make clearer to others what had long been a mystery to him.  Paul had, you recall, been convinced that the message Jesus preached and the movement he launched were heretical perversions of the Judaism in which he’d been raised.  But after God’s gracious intervention on the Damascus Road, Paul took to the desert for three years to make sense of that experience and its relationship to the faith he’d received from childhood.  The result was a message clearly focused on the freely given grace of God as the way to salvation.  Along with that clear message was the realization that this offer of grace was for all people, Gentile as well as Jew.  So Paul writes, “I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  (vs. 3)  The truth of God’s grace as the way to salvation that included people who’d previously been enemies in one community—the church—was so compelling that Paul saw it as the key through which to interpret all of life.  Today, we draw wisdom and knowledge from many sources.  We are aware of the truth present in other great religious traditions as well as the interpretive power of science, mathematics, technology, and a host of other disciplines.  But the Christian, Paul seems to be saying, tries to filter all these different sources of knowledge through the lens of the truth God has made known to the world in Jesus.  It is an audacious (and arguable) claim, but Christians are distinctive not because they think they’re right and everyone else is wrong, but because the greatest insight they have received is the realization that in Christ, God has shown the world the depths of God’s love for all of us.  Any tidbit of knowledge, whether from science, economics, politics, or philosophy is relevant and useful.   But it is most useful and least harmful whenever the relevance of such knowledge is utilized in the light of the one thing we believe we know without a trace of doubt—that God intends salvation, wholeness, health, and healing for all of God’s creatures and all of God’s creation!

Thought for the day:  Knowledge comes to us from many different streams and sources.  Human knowledge is most useful whenever it is utilized for the advancement of the health and wholeness of God’s creation!

 Prayer:  O God, help me to increase daily in my understanding of your will and purpose for my life and the world.  And with all the knowledge, data, and information that is constantly coming my way, help me to utilize these gifts for the greatest good by utilizing them in service to your kingdom, that realm where all your creation realizes your intention for wholeness, health, and peace. Amen. 

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