Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Faith vs. Knowledge

We studied an interesting character from the book of Judges at church on Sunday. In Judges chapter 11 we are introduced to Jephthah, an individual who is described as coming from a disfunctional family (his mother was a prostitute, yet he lived with his father and his family). The author then goes onto describe Jephthah's life which includes an interesting turn of events where he goes from a despised sibling to a powerful leader and warrior. If you read later in Hebrews 11, Jephthah is described as a man of faith which is an interesting legacy considering he sacrificed his daughter after a huge victory. What made Jephthah sacrifice his daughter? Didn't he know that we don't need to (literally) sacrifice anything to obtain God's favor or blessing? That's the whole reason Jesus came.

Jephthah's story was my pastor's illustration of the striking difference between faith and knowledge. Jephthah had a deep, strong faith in God however along with the rest of the Israelites at the time he was lacking a thorough understanding of God. Jephthah acted on his faith, knowing that God would allow for His victory but he made a costly mistake in promising to sacrifice whatever came out his door first upon his return home. Had Jephthah better understood God and his revealed word, he would not have made this promise to sacrifice.

Think about your own faith--what is deeper/greater? Your faith or your knowledge? Or are they fairly balanced? Is it because of your knowledge which comes from hearing God's word (Romans 10:17) that your faith is greater than without hearing God's word? I know that I have struggled with this concept in my own life. I believe in God but sometimes I am fairly unable to describe why, which constitutes a lack of understanding of God's word. The more I study the bible the better able I become to make connections between my life and God's teaching. I pray that you will desire just as much knowledge about God as you do faith in Him--I leave you this analogy to encourage you to do so:

Think about the ocean: the sand between your toes, the ocean mist, the sound of waves lapping at the sand. The moist air, intense sunsets, and seagulls begging for food. Now, think about studying a map of the ocean. Which is more of an experience that you would desire: being at the ocean or studying a map of it? The answer is pretty obvious--being at the ocean. Now this experience is sufficient for those who desire to dabble in the ocean from the seashore, however if you were to navigate the ocean it would benefit you far more if you had studied and knew the map inside and out. The same is true of our relationship with God. If you desire to know God at the edge, then the exhilirating experiences you have on occasion are sufficient. However, if you plan on navigating the rough waters of life then it would be in your best interest to study God's map for your life--His word.

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