Reading through my devotion on a recent morning, I noticed the writer used a definition of a word while omitting the word’s second meaning. Now, I do not think this was on purpose or that the writer intended any other agenda. He was not incorrect, just incomplete. Because I knew the other meaning, the reading did not lessen the message God meant for me to receive. I likened the writer to someone conveying a story to another and telling it the way he heard it. But as with all stories, the telling raises questions. Our natural curiosity wants to know more. And isn’t the Gospel story just this kind of story? I want to know more.
Jesus said many things, good things, things that are true. I know this by what is not good and not true. And because He said these things, because I believe not just in Him, but also believe Him, I am compelled to a lifetime of study. I am aware there is another type of Christian who believes in Him but does not believe Him. He shall get for what he asks. To learn and understand what Jesus meant in His words, to not only believe Him but to then go out and do what He said, this is the first business of discipleship. If we do not want to do what He says and means, why bother? This means my active participation in study and ceasing to listen to what they say, whoever “they” may be. No one else can do faith for me.
Spending time in devotion, studying source material and word meanings, deepens understanding. Learning aids the doing. Of course, there are better sources than others. I have learned to begin in the Bible against which all my observations are tested. I am certainly aided by good Greek, English, and Hebrew dictionaries when necessary. I am informed by supplemental stories and human failings, by good and bad philosophy, by historicity and the present state of affairs, by wise sages and false prophets, all of which leads me back to what Christ said.
Knowledge unto itself does not make me a better person or even a better Christian. The pitfall, if knowledge is the goal, is to be better than, and nothing could be less Christian. No, I think the goal is to know Christ better, to possess the kind of heart He wishes me to have, to listen to His words when He says, “Go and do likewise.” I want to know more about likewise.
It’s like being a Transformer toy that comes in the package as one thing, but with a few twists and turns and a bit of effort becomes a whole other thing. All the parts are still there, but it is no longer as it began. This is the goal of my devotional life, a life in Christ, to become a whole other thing. If I believe Him, why wouldn’t I want to be?
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).