What We “Want” to Know
What could be nobler than wanting to know more about Jesus? New Christians sometimes describe themselves as “sponges”, soaking up as much information as possible about their Savior. They want to know everything about Him and explore the depths of His truth, love and mercy.
It seems counterintuitive to suggest what we “want” to know could teeter on, even plummet over the perilous cliff of self-righteous religious rhetoric. And yet, this is exactly where we must be fearlessly honest with ourselves. While it is true many of the things we want to know about Jesus strengthen our faith, we must make absolutely sure He is the true object of our affection. Otherwise, our knowledge can “puff up” our egos and become a utility for selfish ambition.
For example, what believer would not want Jesus with him in a serious business venture? Jesus taught us to be good stewards of the talents we are given and cautioned us against hiding our gifts in the ground. He taught us how to balance treasure with truth, and what it means to be fair and just in our dealings with others. Yet, I have met many disillusioned Christians who have suffered through the collapse of a business, thoroughly confused because they believed their efforts had been blessed by Jesus. I have encountered as many cynical non-Christians who have been burned by believers who slap the name “Jesus” on their product and expect the world to trust them.
As human beings, we want to know Jesus is on our side. Indeed, He is on our side when it comes to our need for redemption, but He never said he would serve as Chairman of the Board for our personal enterprises. We must ask ourselves, “Do we want to know Jesus, or do we want to know something about Jesus we can use for our own purposes?”
Perhaps you can think of people in the Bible who erred in this area. Jesus once had a conversation with a wealthy young ruler who wanted to know the way to eternal life. He had been faithful in keeping God’s commandments and wanted to know what was lacking. Then Jesus tossed out an unfathomable challenge: “Go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor. Then your treasure will be in heaven and you can follow me” (Luke 18:18-23 paraphrase). The ruler walked away sadly. He wanted to know the way to eternal life, but only if it was consistent with his own life strategy. Jesus wasn’t teaching us we all have to give away everything we own. But He was asking us to decide who, or what is in control of our future.
You may also remember the account of Simon the Sorcerer. He heard the message of Jesus and was baptized during the early days of the church (Acts 8:13). I personally believe Simon’s conversion was sincere, yet when Peter and John showed up to dispense some miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, Simon switched into entrepreneurial mode. He tried to buy Peter and John’s apostolic authority. Miraculous gifts plus sorcery offered Simon a clear path to fame and fortune and it was hard for him to see past the dollar signs in his eyes and recognize the hypocrisy in his heart. I would like to think Simon responded to Peter’s advice to repent and pray. I am certain God forgave him if he did. I also empathize with Simon because I know how easy it is for any of us to want something so much we spiritualize ourselves into an ungodly corner.
We should want to know everything possible about Jesus, but our “want” should be grounded in those things we truly “need.” This is a critical point that must be settled at the beginning of any journey with the Lord. It is the filter through which everything we discover about Him must pass. What then, do we need?