Knowledge & Love

Taken from my article submitted to the Red Rock News
Knowledge and love devotional
Rev. Dona Johnson | Jan 27, 2024
Knowledge is both an astonishing and powerful thing. It empowers, enriches and deepens our understanding of the character and attributes of God. Faith comes from hearing the word of God, says Paul (Ro. 10:17). Our knowledge of God aids our understanding of our own existence, purpose, and salvation. Of course knowing about God as information and knowing Jesus on a more personal level are two different things. The Greeks understood this knowing (ginōskō) a genuinely knowing person, their character, how they think and how they plan. In other words, experience a person on a more intimate level. And through intimately knowing God, we also come face to face with his love, forgiveness and judgment. Knowledge of God through his Word fans the flames of authentic Christian transformation.
        But knowledge alone, without love leads to pride and spiritual superiority. Where knowledge with love leads to humility and a genuine sense of caring for others. Paul was sensitive to the various cultural differences and patient with people who were at different stages of faith in order that he might win them to the gospel.
         The city of Corinth in 50 A.D. was a city of commerce, trade and hosted a diverse arra y of pagan temples which housed the Greek gods such as Apollos, Asclepius and Demeter. While Apostle Paul was in Corinth, he was confronted with a situation in the church. Often pagan temples offered animals to the gods, they also functioned as butcher shops and banquet halls. It was common place for this temple meat to be sold to the public. Paul instructs the Corinthian Christians not to eat in pagan temples because it may influence and lead to the destruction of weaker Christians. The more mature Christians understood that the idols and thus the meat sacrificed to idols were nonsense and of no avail. Since God is the creator of the animals and the pagan gods had no power to save there was no problem in consuming the meat itself.
        New Christians probably found it a constant struggle to move away from the false gods they had worshiped for years to now place their trust solely in Christ. They would run the risk of being shunned by their friends and peers. Paul took a deeply pastoral approach. He provided the time and space for them to process and work through the One God they were trying to embrace and the plurality of other gods they had known for years. Paul had compassion on those weaker in the faith. Paul did not want those who had more knowledge of Christian spiritual practices to be a stumbling block to those who were new to the faith. For in the end it was not the food we eat that makes us right before God but our faith in Jesus Christ.
         Is everything to be judged solely from the perspective of how much we know? Or ought everything be judged from the perspective of love? We definitely need both. However, many people have left the faith, the church because they felt scolded and judged for their lack knowledge, for their struggles and questions. Paul insists that our knowledge of the gospel can overpower and alienate if not used with care and compassion. Knowledge can inflate and puff up a person’s sense of importance. Love (agape), by contrast, elevates, builds up (oikodomei) and encourages people at all stages of faith, and affirms their status as those whom God both creates in his image, passionately loves and died to forgive and redeem from the sin and brokenness that plagues us all.
         GracePointe of Sedona, a true house church community invites you to join this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. for worship and conversatio—“a way of life.” We will explore the meaning of moral knowledge.
         Join us, Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. at The Gathering Place for conversations on the book of Revelation—the second coming of Jesus Christ.