Information with Transformation

Knowledge without Transformation is mere Information.

Matthew 22:34-46

“What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?

 

            It is easy to gain knowledge.  We can become experts in any field simply by spending the time to gain all the available information on a specific topic.  Today, we have an endless supply of information about anything at our fingertips.  The problem is not in gaining knowledge; the challenge is applying the knowledge we have in the right way to make a difference in our lives.

            The religious leaders were the experts of the Old Testament Law.  They studied it continually and relentlessly debated its meaning.  Because the Old Testament provided God's moral law, they spent hours in relentless debate arguing which laws were the most important.  Their debates had reduced the law to 365 negative and 248 positive commands.  Having identified these commands in the Old Testament law, they then sought to prioritize them, for if one is to break a law, one did not want to break a law with the greatest punishment.  The problem with the Jews was that they knew inside and out the Old Testament, but they failed to be transformed by it.  Thus, they sought to trap Jesus by embroiling him in their debate.

            Jesus’ response is surprising.  Instead of pointing out the importance of loving God and loving your neighbor, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:4-5 but makes one subtle but significant change.  Instead of “might,” he inserts the word “mind.”  This points to two essential principles.  First, by including the mind, Jesus encompasses the totality of our being.  Jesus is emphasizing that our faith is to be comprehensive, and we are to bring the totality of our being under his sovereign rule.  But by referring to “mind,” Jesus is confronting the heart of the problem with the Jews.  The religious leaders followed all the rituals but did not allow the scriptures to transform their minds.   They argued about the law, but they did not think biblically.  Jesus goes on to point out that if they were allowing the Old Testament to transform them in both action and thought, not only would they live differently, but they would have recognized that Jesus was the Messiah.  Jesus points out that in Psalms 110:1, David acknowledged that the Messiah was someone more significant than David.  They would have recognized that the Messiah was God.

            We face the same challenge in our own lives.  This next week we celebrate Christmas.  We sing the carols.  We can easily tell the story of the birth of Jesus, the angelic appearance to the shepherds, and their visit to the manger.  We may even understand that the Wisemen did not come to the manger but came much later to the house. However, for all our festivities in celebration of Christmas, we can end up no better than the religious leaders.  We can have the knowledge of Christmas and a knowledge of Jesus but remain unchanged.  It is information, but not transformational truth.  Responding to the story of Christ is to acknowledge Christ for who is genuinely fully is—God himself comes in the flesh- and to be fully transformed at the very core of our being.  To be transformed by Christ is to love him and bring all things under the submission of his sovereign rule.  It is to think and act differently.  It is to prioritize Christ and our life with him above all other things.  

            The religious leaders had knowledge that gave them information but were not transformed by it.  In the end, it had no redemptive value.  We must ask ourselves the same question:  Do we possess information about Christ, or are we transformed by Christ?

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