Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23 & 24
Just for a moment, think what it would be like if one day you chanced upon a person who was trying to figure out what are the most important things to know in life. You would be given the task of helping that person decipher this. What would you say?
– Would you suggest the most important things to know are the meaning of signs? For example: smoke being a sign of fire. No language is needed, just an understanding of that sign–the difference between life and death.
– Maybe you would explain the most important thing to know is how to know. In other words, acquiring true beliefs and being sure they are true. Plato suggested that if you have true beliefs but don’t know what makes them true, you are at risk of losing them.
– You could instruct them with Socratic wisdom, which teaches that knowing that you don’t know is the most important thing to know. Even earnest searching which could lead to ignorance is better than not searching for answers.
– Finally, you could reason that religion would provide a clear understanding of the most important things to know in life. Rites and tradition practiced in daily life bring understanding of life’s most important moments.
Which is right? Which path would lead this person to having that ‘aha’ moment, ensuring they are on the right path to insight? Which practice or approach to knowledge would prove to be the one where peace and satisfaction rule? Each of these ideas has merit, but do these practices have the ability to provide the real need each person has?
For a lot of us, basic knowledge came through family relationships and traditions. We were raised learning our intellect was the power we would need to achieve and sustain a successful life. Some found personal direction in higher education–safe and controllable. Others seeking answers ran as fast and as far away from God as possible, seeing Him as a mean taskmaster.
I think the answer, which in fact is our greatest need, is a relationship with Jesus Christ. He revealed Himself through His life here on earth. Through sacrificial love He gave His life willingly so mankind would choose to know Him and be known by Him; a savior who intended not to be distant and unapproachable. No. He willingly placed Himself amongst us so we could experience His person.
By admitting we are spiritually lost we put ourselves in a position to be filled and transformed by a God who can save us from the eternal separation sin bought for us. In turn, we receive kingdom knowledge which, if we allow it, can frame our existence into a masterpiece of peace, joy and love.
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:5-6