To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (NIV)
There is a saying, “what you don’t know can’t hurt you.” That is a glib but inaccurate statement that is easily agreed to because 1) to know means one will be held accountable to it and 2) to “know” too much can overwhelm, distract and often mislead.
There is SO much information on the proverbial “information highway” that it is like drowning in the daily drinking from the fire hose of knowledge. Sometimes it is easier to choose NOT to know. Certainly for as long as there have been humans, the dichotomy of choice has played into our spiritual decisions.
There are people who want to “know” a god that fits their own need, taking a bit of this and a bit of that to allow them to design their own god and religious system. Known as syncretism, it can be explained this way:
Syncretism means the fusion of two or more thought systems, and can be applied to philosophy, politics, and religion. Religious syncretism usually involves the addition of a few essential parts of one religion to a dominant religion, resulting in a new religious system.
Sounds a lot like the feel-good “religions” of today. But it is nothing new – because humans have always wanted to be able to fit their god’s in a box – tailor made to their needs/fear, wants and pursuits of “truth”. Whether it is the myriads of religion “-isms” today or the cult of social activism, the green movement or the big push for tolerance, it all has a common fallacy and theme. The fallacy is that if your truth is “truth” and my truth is my “truth” – then by reason, there are NO absolute truths that we can “hang our souls” onto. The common theme to this is also rooted in man’s desire to be their own gods through the implementation of their deeds. Good deeds = good people. I am “good” if I recycle, if I take efforts to reduce my carbon footprint, if I agree with no moral absolutes (as I do not want to make anyone feel rejected), if I make way that all religions are good because they end up in the same place.
The question I faced at one point in my own life is, how much must I DO to finally sway the scales in my own favour to be “a good person”? Good enough to be welcomed into heaven – whatever that looks like? It was maddening and to be honest, finding myself on the ever-squeaking gerbil wheel of performance for approval was exhausting, dispiriting and soul sucking. I determined that rather to be dragged across the finish line by my self-serving goodness, I would much rather believe there is no god at all. That way I am left to my miserable self to justify my own choices without recrimination…and for awhile, I did just that.
There is only one problem with this reasoning. I could not look into the face of my newborn child and conclude there was no higher power, no God that could have formed this miracle in my life. I could not count his toes, look into his eyes, watch his stout little legs carry him across the green grass of the yard and not marvel at this little machine of flesh, love and grace.
French philosopher Blaise Pascal once said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
Now syncretists can perhaps except the premise of this statement, sans the Jesus Christ reference…atheists have much to say about this statement and whole heartedly dismiss it, however, if one trusts the Bible to be an accurate reflection of the word of God (though not politically correct or socially acceptable), it will make you a pariah very quickly in the eyes of many.
But remember, what THEY don’t know WILL hurt them. Whether by ignorance, or more likely, by choice the “kings and queens” of this world are being led into darkness. To accept an almighty God other than their personal will requires being held accountable at a higher standard. It requires admitting guilt.
As someone who has been on the other side of this argument, e.g. not knowing and/or accepting the good news of Jesus Christ, I can honestly say that What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You. And that is a painful truth.
Contrarily, not all “knowledge” is good for you. For example knowing that we have choices to engage in behaviours of our liking, with no thought as to whether it is good for us or not.
Some of you say, “We can do anything we want to.” But I tell you that not everything is good for us. So I refuse to let anything have power over me. 1 Corinthians 6:12 (CEV)
As far back as Genesis 2:16-17, we are taught about choosing good over evil. Adam and Eve were advised to choose good over evil which they failed… but that wise guidance still stands today. The problem is the very source of this guidance, God’s Word, is often scoffed at, perverted or disregarded and yes, even demonized by those “in the know…” but that knowledge (or lack therof) will end in a seismic hurt; eternal separation from God.
Amen and amen.