I may be writing myself out of a job with this one. Perfect followers of Jesus don’t need a book, blog, or weekend seminar to know the lord. In fact, literacy, higher learning and lots of smarts are probably more of a liability than an asset when it comes to having a deep faith. Don’t get mad at me; it was Jesus’ idea, not mine.
In Chapter 10 of Mark’s gospel, Jesus gave his disciples a verbal wrist-slap when they tried to keep children away from Jesus, and he said, “Truly, I tell you, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” In case that lesson wasn’t clear enough, he told them that the teensy little seed of a mustard plant had more faith than they did. Nowhere in the gospels does Jesus give a disciple a pat on the back for being brilliant. Nobody got an Almighty fist-bump for knowing the ten commandments in order or the precise location of Jacob’s well. God likes the simple approach. Him, you, love, repeat. That’s it. Not complicated, scholarly or confusing.
This of course, leaves us with an obvious question (not to mention a lot of surplus word processors and office paper). Why did he give you the ability to write, read, and reason? Why do we have curiosity? Why did He create DaVinci, what is the point of Augustine and who needed John Paul II? And what are we doing here with a cup of coffee and a tablet computer at 5:30 in the morning?
His gifts, including the gifts of wisdom, knowledge and communication, exist for a reason. God did not create the universe and drop leftovers. Every atom, tear drop, word and university exists for a reason. That includes your PhD in art history. And it includes all of our current brilliant theologians. They are here to help guide us. The simple reality is that we are not “perfect” believers. We were born with natures that draw us away from God.
Worldly education and worldly base pleasures lead us to worldly answers. God put gifts of knowledge in the world to act as signposts, guiding us back to our eternal home. For many of us, the road home leads through the library. For others, it’s the laboratory, and for still others, the pulpit. Our Father calls each of us in a language as unique as we are. Learning is a way of listening to His voice.
The challenge is to accept that no matter how smart we are, it’s God, not us, who knows the way. Approaching God in simplicity and faith requires humility. And the smarter we are, the harder it can be to maintain that humility. We get in our own way. No matter how much we learn, we will always be first grade students. Knowledge and learning should always be a part of our growth as eternal beings. And so should humility
Keep the faith. Keep it simple.