In my fourth year of Bible college, a theology professor said something that has stuck with me all these years.
He said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that matters.”
This was spoken to a group of graduating students, heads and hearts filled with all kinds of new knowledge and passion for God, about to embark on a lifetime of changing the world for Jesus. Now, 32 years later, those words still ring true for me.
I learned a lot in the subsequent years. In fact, in order to learn some things I had to unlearn others. Some of the things I had thought were true in the early days actually turned out not to be true. Some of the things that I thought were huge priorities in the Christian life actually turned out to be rather minor and unimportant when compared to other things (like love, for example.) At one point I even learned that the whole point of Christianity is Jesus – funny how I actually had to learn that. You’d think it was self-evident. But for me it wasn’t, because He was obscured by other things that I thought were more important. Duh!
I’ve been learning that this isn’t an uncommon problem among the people of God. I read about it the other day in Hebrews 5. The author was talking about how Jesus was a superior high priest because He was after the order of Melchizedek and said, “I’ve got more to say to you about this, but it’s hard to make clear because you no longer try to understand. In fact, while you ought to be teachers yourselves, you actually still need someone to teach you the basics of God’s word all over again.” (Hebrews 5:11-12). Ouch!
And the author of Hebrews wasn’t talking about having itching ears for some new Bible trivia or historical factoid. He was talking about being open to deep, abiding and life-transforming revelation that rocks your world and makes you wonder how you ever thought it to be otherwise.
I guess these folks thought they’d arrived. They had it all figured out and they knew it all. There really wasn’t any room in their thinking for something new. They didn’t realize how wrong they were.
I love this quote from Brennan Manning in his book The Ragamuffin Gospel:
“When I become so spiritually advanced that Abba is old hat, then the Father has been had, Jesus has been tamed, the Spirit has been corralled, and the Pentecostal fire has been extinguished. Evangelical faith is the antithesis of lukewarmness: it always means a profound dissatisfaction with our present state.”
Hmm. I think there’s something I can learn from that. How about you?