Hearts and Minds
Many people have gone on to share how Facebook is dangerous for society; causing us to have a distant, non-personal relationship with others all while thinking we are connected. In this sense, I think the American church sub-culture has simply had a Facebook Official relationship with Jesus much longer than Facebook has even existed. The discipleship models we create are mostly about studying and reading a lot about God. We teach that one must learn all they can about God, follow His commands; do the things he says to do and avoid the things he says not to do. We teach and live a model of learning much about God, but rarely get to teaching and living a life dedicated to seeking to truly know Him. Studying and reading good books is key to knowing Him, but they are not all there is. Knowledge must be balanced by love. I can creep all over someone’s Facebook and learn all there is to know about someone. I can know almost everything there is to know…and still miss the person themselves. Also, when thinking about Facebook, when we post our stuff on there it’s usually the best stuff. So, we simply know “about”, we don’t actually know each other at all…even though it looks like we may know each other well. When we know the person and love them for who they are, not our knowledge about them, we can have a full relationship with them. Knowledge and love must go hand in hand
We tend to not live in the balance of love and knowledge. Many times we seek one over the other because it’s easier than living in the balance of both. However, when we live this way, we miss the fullness of who we are as well as the fullness of our freedom in Christ. When we see that our Hearts and Minds should be engaged with Christ and in our freedom, we must seek to answer this question Why must we balance love and knowledge? Which I believe the scripture answers for us.
Paul had just finished discussing issues on marriage and sex. Afterwards he began to attack an issue that was of high debate in this church and the culture around them: food sacrificed to idols. The stronger Christians began to eat the meat that was previously sacrificed to idols but was sold in the market at a cheaper rate than the meat not sacrificed to idols. This caused frustration among the weaker Christians, who thought they were stronger for abstaining and became puffed up due to this abstinence. This caused problems between the believers in the church and they sought out Paul to answer the question: “Is it OK to eat food sacrificed to idols?” The broader question that meets us today is what does my freedom in Christ allow me to do? Paul then answers this question by talking about knowledge and love. Which he at first (for this week) contrasts the two in our relationship to God, then next week we will see him contrast it with how they interact with one another. He declares we are to
- Knowledge Bloats while Love Blesses (vs. 1-2)
The Corinthian church, as we saw earlier in this series, relied on knowledge and wisdom far too much and relied upon God and His love way too little. These believers felt they knew everything and so became a group of believers who relied upon themselves and their “knowledge” to live out their Christian lives as they saw fit. They used their knowledge as their basis for belief and relied to much on their minds in the realm of discipleship. We too tend to live out of our knowledge of God rather than our intimacy with Him. This living out of their knowledge then caused them to be puffed up, or bloated in their knowledge. They felt supreme to all in their wealth of wisdom and so looked down upon those who seemed to have lesser knowledge. They had little love for God and little love for those whom they felt were inferior. Yet, what they needed was a balance of heart and mind. Paul nailed them with this when he stated: “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.” Put another way: Our imagined knowledge proves our actual ignorance. One commentator stated: “Knowledge for mere self-aggrandizement reveals a deeper ignorance, and preoccupation with self-glorifying knowledge is pretentious” (Soards)
The person who really knows truth is only too aware of how much they do not yet know. Once we begin to really seek to know God and not just know about Him, he begins to blow every box apart that we try to put Him in. We can never come to a place where we can say we know the fullness of God. Part of the joy of seeking to be with Him is to learn more of Him. If we feel we know all there is to know, we will grow bored and the relationship grows stale. When we feel as if we’ve reached the depth of who God is, we also enter in the realm of ignorance. We also fool ourselves into thinking that this one-sided seeking of knowledge about God brings us into relationship with Him. However, as Paul states:
2. Loving God brings Our Lives into communion With Him (vs. 3)
When we love God, He knows us. We begin to reveal ourselves to Him, not simply seek to educate ourselves about Him. When we are simply seeking knowledge, we are not revealing self. As one commentator said: “What matters is to be known by God, and the evidence of God’s knowing a believer is the believer’s love for God. God’s will and work, not a self-inflated estimation of the value of what one knows, must be the first priority of a believer” (Soards). When we are known by God and he still doesn’t walk out on us, we know He loves us. His love enables us to love him more, and so His knowing us enables us to know Him more…not in the simple book knowledge or the “knowing about” but the deep relational knowing that only comes through the beauty of relationship.
3. When we are known by God, we better understand our freedom (vs. 4-6)
Love and knowledge must go hand in hand. Too often many times in discipleship, we focus on one to the detriment of the other. This shouldn’t be. As it has been said: “Truth without love is brutality, but love without truth is hypocrisy”. When we put both together, not just in our pursuit of God, but in out pursuit for relationship in the church, we have a much better result for growing in Christ. The weaker believers in the Corinthian church were struggling with eating the meat sacrificed to idols and thought they were superior Christians because they abstained. The stronger believers knew God and knew that the idols were powerless, but were not lovingly guiding their fellow believers along into growth but were rather beating them over the head with the “knowledge” that it was OK. However, when we come to a closer relationship to God and are not simply seeking to know about Him, but actually know Him, we come to a place of properly using our freedom…of which neither of these groups (The Stronger or the Weaker) had fully come to. Had they been in this proper place of freedom, they would have 1. Understood that it was ok to eat the meat and 2. That there must be love in the mix in explaining how free they are.
Paul discusses the knowledge of these other “gods” but then displays the fullness of the One True God in verse six. He gives a creedal type of monologue in this verse declaring that we are created by and created for Christ. When we see this, in the light of the statements above about love, we know who we are and why we are when we seek to love God. We can then live in the freedom we have in the full knowledge of who He is and who we are. We as created beings have an innate desire to know and be known. This is why Facebook is so popular in our culture; that desire is created within us so we will seek God and know Him as well as be known by Him.
This reality of hearts and minds engaged with God should then also be translated to our personal relationships with one another. We will go into depth with this next week, but when we seek to know each other with our hearts and minds we will truly love one another and church won’t feel like a race to see who’s a “better follower” but rather it will be a race where we are all rooting for and helping each other run towards the prize that is Christ.