I know you have heard the definition of theology is “faith seeking understanding.” If that was all it took we would have the kind of faith Jesus speaks of when he says if we had the faith the size of a mustard seed. You know the faith that can move mountains, conquer fear, overcome doubt and allow us to walk on water because we would know the “immense power at work in us who believe (Eph.1:19).
I have always found it interesting how God instructed Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge in the center of the garden. Knowledge cannot be a bad thing for us for the more we know the more we understand. In every parish in the United States spiritual life commissions or adult faith formation programs are constantly offering opportunities for us to grow spiritually. Those efforts are not to be dismissed for we are woefully uneducated when it comes to being able to articulate our faith.
We should be supporting those efforts and seeking for the opportunities to grow spiritually. Yet if we go back to Adam and Eve it appears we can miss the opportunity to grow in knowledge by seeking to “gain insights our own.” I like those opening passages of Genesis when God is interacting with Adam and Eve. It seems to me that he is home schooling them in the workings of the Kingdom he had just created. Is it possible to learn without going to a source of “knowledge” to open our eyes?
Did he really tell you not to eat of any of the trees in the garden? No, God said only from the tree in the middle of the garden you shall not eat least you die. You will not die but your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God. Wow, from the tree of knowledge we will be like God? Everything we want is there for the taking so why not take what the tree of knowledge offers us. We have suffered the consequence of their desire to take their relationship with God in their own hands. Instead of having their eyes opened and becoming like God they lost paradise for themselves and brought that original sin into humanity.
Not only are we stained with original sin we are still seeking understanding to be holy as God is holy by our quest for understanding instead of embracing what God offers by his gift of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
St. Anslem told us a better way to grow spiritually when he said “I believe in order to understand.
Let us not repeat the lessons of the past but learn from the Master teacher how to obtain all we need to understand. Listen to God speaking to you and me through the words he inspired the author of the Book of Proverbs today.
Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven columns; she has dressed her meat, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table. She has sent out her maidens; she calls
from the heights out over the city: “Let whoever is simple turn in here; To the one who lacks understanding, she says, Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding” (Prv. 9:1-6).
Let the simple turn in here, to the one who lacks understanding come and have what God offers. You have got to love the way God challenges our ‘wisdom” of what it takes to be all God desires us to be. Our first inclination when we think of someone simple is they are uneducated, lacking in worldly wisdom, unable to advance because we lack drive, ambition or education. Yet, God is calling the simple because those who are not simple he calls foolish as they are seeking what he offers in other places.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of God” (Mt. 18:3 NIV). Children have a simple faith, they believe without question and they are steadfast in that belief.
“Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Did not God make the foolish the wisdom of the world.” “To the one who lacks understanding come and eat and drink” (1Col. 1:20 NIV).
Consume Christ, the bread of heaven. Invite Christ to school us in understanding by sending us the gift he promised us in that upper room the night before he died.
“I will ask the Father and he will send the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, who will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you” (Jn. 14:26 NIV).
It would seem God has it rigged against using our intellect in seeking wisdom for salvation, but he has given us the means to be wise when he told us to seek first his kingdom and to become like little children. Let us not lose sight of what we seek when we seek wisdom or knowledge. That proverb goes on to advise us to teach the wise and they will become wiser. So, there is a direction all our seeking must be tailored to accomplish and that is a deeper understanding of the basic gospel message.
God’s love, the gift of Christ death and resurrection opening the flood gates of salvation and restoring our glory as sons and daughters created in the image of God. If our intent in learning is to understand the call to be disciples and living a life worthy of that call, then we do become the people God intended us to be when he created us. Once we embrace our destiny as heirs to the Kingdom of God, we can do what Adam and Eve failed to do and that is not to depend on our wisdom but to allow us to be taught by the greatest teacher of all time – the Holy Spirit.
This Spirit will do more than teach us all Christ did and said, he will pour the love of God into our hearts. This Spirit will change our hearts because God promised to send his Spirit to do just that. To change our hearts, so we will follow his laws and his will for our lives. This Spirit will open the eyes of our hearts to receive all God offers us and to fully understand what it means to worship, to serve and to proclaim Jesus as Lord. As you begin to seek knowledge say a prayer to discover Christ in the material and then ask the Holy Spirit to move in your heart to apply what you learn to help others discover the wisdom of seeking Christ – to believe in order to understand.