I’m a knowledge guy. I didn’t say I’m a smart guy, just a knowledge guy. In other words, I like knowing. I like “being in the know.” I like growing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10). But the older I get, the more I know how much I don’t know.
For most of my adult life, “growing in the knowledge of God” meant knowing “stuff” about God—theology, soteriology, eschatology, pneumatology, Christology, and all the other
“-ologies” out there. And, yes, there is a place for knowing about God and knowing about propositional truth and knowing about the great doctrinal foundations of our faith. I value that. I don’t belittle that.
What I’m discovering, however, is that while my left-brain has been engaged in knowing about God, my right-brain has been dormant far too long. The right half of the brain is what neuroscientists tell us processes information leading to empathy, compassion and relationships. This is where the Hebrew word, yada, shifts from just “knowing about” to “knowing personally.”
Jim Wilder and Marcus Warner help us understand how we need to engage the whole brain in order to grow in the grace AND knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Their book, The Solution of Choice: Four Good Ideas That Neutralized Western Christianity, shares the false assumption that left-brain, propositional truth will always produce godly character and sustainable transformation. Here’s how they say it:
Since the days of the enlightenment, we have lived in an increasingly left-brain dominated world of virtual reality, redundant information, and relational isolation. Sadly, the church has simply followed along, unable to see what we have lost in our abandonment of all God intended the right brain to do. Therefore, we have a problem-focused, analytical church that is good at doing tasks and talking about ideas. What we have missed is a church that excels at empathy, compassion, forming deep bonds, and loving our enemies (p. 31).
One of our elders said to me yesterday, “What can we do as a church that compels people to want to be with us on mission for Jesus?” And herein, I believe, lies the answer. Both-And. Both grace and knowledge. Both “study the scriptures” (Acts 17:11) and “they will know we are His disciples by our love” (John 13:35). Both “a thorough knowledge of the scriptures” (Acts 18:24) and “a sincere love for one another” (1 Peter 1:22).
As the old adage goes, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” That requires engaging the whole brain and submitting it to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
I’m tired of being a half-brained Christianity. How about you?