I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty overwhelmed by all the information I have access to. In this digital age, we ingest just about every video, article or music clip that catches our eye as we comb through the world wide web. My friend refers to these never ending streaming blitzs as a “youtube rampage.” Going from vlog to blog, from Wikipedia to documentaries, and from K-drama episode 1 to K-drama episode 21, the snowball effect of these so called “rampages” has redefined the way we absorb and handle information. Thanks to our various consuming devices, there is no limit to how much we can learn.
This brings us to the problem. It’s called BACKLOG. The more vulgar and provocative term I used to get you to click on my blog is “constipation.” Which ever term you’d prefer to use (I like the latter), they both imply (for this blog’s purposes) an accumulation of knowledge that has yet to be applied, expressed, or released ;). If any of you have ever experienced the tangible reality of this condition, I need not remind you of the unpleasant nature of its affects. However, unlike the pain and uncomfort that arises from a physical expression of this ailment, cognitive backlog doesn’t give us a signal when our storage space has reached its maximum capacity. The symptoms aren’t as obvious when spiritual concepts encounter a narrow bottle neck, our stomach doesn’t growl as much when we fail to apply what we know in our minds.
I think that’s why Jesus hammers down his most famous sermon in Matthew 5-7 with an exhortation for us to put his words into practice. He says that “everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matthew 7:26-27 ESV). Obedience and application of the word means more to God than growing in knowledge itself. In fact, we’re not building a solid foundation if we fail to be doers of his word. In his book “Knowing God”, J.I. Packer states that
“If we pursue theological knowledge for it’s own sake it is bound to go bad on us, it will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it.”
Legalism, arrogance, pride and judgement towards others are all symptoms to a mindset that detaches theology from an adherence to it. As one who spends a great deal of time teaching and preaching, I simply do not have the liberty to take this warning for granted. Amidst my theoretical and theological advancements, I tend to deceive myself to think that I have mastered the topic. However, knowing the laws and understanding the scriptures doesn’t mean anything if I fail to put them into practice.
Nothing written in this post is all that new. It might even sound a little redundant to you. But I’ve come to realize that important truths needs repeating. I used to feel discouraged when people came up to me after a sermon I preached saying “Thanks for the message Jesse, it was a great reminder.” Reminder? I wanted to give them something FRESH, something they never heard before! But when you think about it, there are plenty of topics and sermons that need repeating. Our understanding of a passage is ultimately dependent on our obedience to it. The question is whether we have put the words we have heard into practice. If not, I don’t care if you’ve heard it 100 times before, you don’t get it if you’ve never done it.
I watched this short video by Alan Hirsch and I think it adds something to what I’m trying to say.