Why Knowing More Doesn’t Mean Growing More

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Knowledge Is Power.

I remember a poster with those words hanging in one of my teacher’s classrooms when I was young. The more I knew, the more I’d be able to accomplish. Back home, we went to a church that, while it wasn’t said explicitly, taught the same. We had Sunday School, Sunday morning service, Sunday evening service, and Wednesday night service – all with an emphasis on growing in our knowledge of the Bible.

In children’s ministry, we did Bible drills and other games designed to help us know our way around the Bible. And it wasn’t without its positives. I left for college with a great deal of Bible knowledge that continues to shape me, and I am forever grateful for the men and women who invested their time and wisdom into my life.

But heading to college, I had formed within my brain a clear understanding of what it meant to live and grow as a Christian. It can be summed up like this:

Information = Transformation. 

In order to grow and continue in my progress as a Christian, I had to gain more knowledge about God and the Bible. And that’s exactly what I did. I gobbled up Christian books. I did multiple Bible studies. When podcasts came on the scene, I listened to as many as I could. In my mind, I was growing as a Christian because I knew more about God and the Bible. But under the surface, the same sin and arrogance wasn’t budging. I was knowing more, but I wasn’t growing more. 

This, I’ve found, is one of the foundational struggles of American Christians like me. We think a good Bible Study, a better sermon from a better preacher, or the latest Christian book is going to be the thing that takes us to the “next level.” But if our knowledge only serves to inform us and not form us, we will continue to stay the same. 1 Corinthians 8 makes an interesting statement about this: “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” More and more knowledge often builds arrogance, not humility. Only in receiving the love of God are we built up.

Does it mean we need to stop learning? Of course not! We need to continue to live a life under the authority and guidance of the Scriptures. But instead of reading the Bible for information, we must learn to read the Bible for formation – to form us.

Instead of reading the Bible for information, we must learn to read the Bible for formation – to form us.

In John 5, Jesus is confronted by the people who knew the Bible more than anyone – the Pharisees. The Pharisees knew the Bible but didn’t know God – even when he was standing right in front of them. Jesus makes this incredibly challenging statement in response to them:

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39 NIV

This weekend in our series “Surprise The World,” we are going to talk about how to not miss Jesus in the middle of our knowledge, and by doing so, surrender to be formed by him to be like him. Our next “Surprise The World” habit? Learn. But not just learning more about Jesus, learning from Jesus to be like Jesus.

I can’t wait! See you Sunday night!

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