My comfortable chair is in my study, swivel set on a red rug, facing a makeshift wall made out of bookshelves. As I write this, I’m struck by the different books that are on that shelf. My theological library takes up most of the space, statistically, but other books are there as well. My gardening books are next to my Tolkien collection, which is next to books on grilling, home improvement projects, and car maintenance.1 With such a motley collection would you say that there is any unifying theme to my book collection? If we were to use my bookshelf as a microcosm of the world’s knowledge, a summary of all you could know, could we come up with a large category under which to put them all?
How (and if) we grow intellectually is ultimately about this question that we’re asking about the books on the bookshelves in my study. What is the point? Some of you have wrongly concluded that there isn’t one and have stopped learning.2 Others of you study to solve problems as they arise in your life. Even others of you are attempting to be anthropomorphic Googles, non-stop learning, hoping to become grand repositories of information on any and all topics.3 What are we to do? Would it shock you if I said that Jesus was the one who tied together Tolkien, Calvin’s Institutes, and How to Grill?
Through, For, and In
In his letter to the Christians at Colossae, Paul wrote:
”All things were created through Jesus and for Jesus. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
There are three important concepts here that we need to note for the question we’re asking. And all three concepts are in the pronouns.4
- Through - All things were made through Jesus. Jesus, as God Almighty, is the creator of all things. He is the one to whom we go to discover authorial intent.
- For - All things were made for Jesus. He isn’t a creator who makes and recedes. All of creation, including all the knowledge there is to know about creation, is for the glory of Jesus. All knowledge points back to Jesus, like tributaries that are constantly filled by the main river.
- In - And in Jesus all things hold together. He did not only make all things, direct them all to his own glory but he also actively holds all things together. Jesus is the Universal Field Theory.
Now let’s return to our question and tie some things together. First, we see that all creation and the knowledge about it culminate in Jesus and are intended to be utilized for his glory. That means my book collection and the facts that are rattling around in your head serve a common goal because they have a common king, namely, Jesus. Now for the second to last step, as Christians, we grow intellectually because we want to grow in our knowledge of Jesus.5
The last step is simply this, God did not make us to grow in intellectual pride or retreat to monkish seclusion. Everything we know is not only for the glory of Jesus but also to love others. One reason to continue learning is so that you can grow in your ability to serve others in the world God has created to the best of your ability.
Study and learn so that you might better know Jesus and love your neighbor. What are you learning now? How does it tie back to Jesus? How are you using what you know to serve those around you?
- Easter is approaching. Invite folks to our worship services on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. We’d love to have some light finger food to enjoy after the service on Easter Sunday. If you’re interested in contributing some food, bring something to share. Talk to April Sumner or Lisa Orr for more information.
- Nursery Training is scheduled for this Sunday and next Sunday immediately after the service. Nursery volunteers, pick one meeting to attend.
- Team leaders, remember that we have a training lunch this Sunday, March 13, after the service in the Annex.
- I think Tolkien would approve. ↩︎
- I admit that I try my very best to hide my contempt for folks who say they haven’t cracked a book in years. At the same time, I know folks, my self included, who probably read too many books at the expense of getting out and living a little. ↩︎
- Yes, you are the one who excels at Trivial Pursuit and with whom none of your friends wants to play. It’s a double-edged sword. ↩︎
- So much theology is done well or poorly by how pronouns are handled. Nota bene! ↩︎
- Yes, even my book on grilling tells me about the God who made the world good and provides for my daily needs, including juicy burgers and the charcoal to cook them. Nehemiah 8:10 ↩︎