I have sat and listened to conversation after conversation about what is happening to our country, our culture and our future. Everywhere I turn, there is someone with something to say. We are a nation of very strong opinions right now. I get it. We have a need to be heard. And rightly everyone is talking about educational reform, environmental reform, healthcare reform… and the list goes on with how we need to reform. I get it, but as I listen more intently to our conversations, I am saddened. I am not only saddened by a culture trying to run away from morality, but saddened by a growing number in the Christian culture who are not interested in learning past the “feeling” of God. There is opinion with no knowledge. Feeling with no thinking. I am saddened by a growing Christian culture who is losing interest in learning about the earth they have been given to cultivate. It seems as I look around, our view of God has become watered down by a need for an abundance of emotion. We want one side of God- the “spiritual” side. And when our view of God becomes watered down and one sided, our opinion of humanity shifts from love to anger.
Emotion can only get us so far.
I know this from experience. Not so many years ago I lived for the “spiritual” side of God. An inspiring message and moving worship songs dictated if I enjoyed church or heard from the Lord. If the message wasn’t particularly relevant to my life, I didn’t hear God. If the worship wasn’t moving me to raise my hands, I didn’t feel God. Basically, if the church didn’t have me on it’s mind, I didn’t see God that day. I had no will to endure past what my emotions told me. And we all know that when emotions are our starting block, God is not the center. I was my center. I could only hear, see or feel God when I felt like life was suiting me, and one of the many consequences of living in my me-centered-universe, was forming “Christian” opinions with no eyes and no ears. I could only see and hear what was right in front of me. Church sermons, the radio, the news, whatever media blurbs or petitions were out there. If it seemed right, then it must be. And if it must be right, then I should have an opinion about it. And if I am going to have an opinion, I will own my opinion as fact and that I am an expert.
Opinion without knowledge can only get us so far.
One day, I heard my kids talking to our neighbor’s son about what they learned at church and how Jesus loves us all and came to save “all us humans.” My heart was full of joy. They went on to also share that they learned about Albert Einstein. “Did you know that Albert Einstein invented the lightbulb, played the violin, made a refrigerator, and had crazy hair?” My heart was not so full of joy anymore. Certainly my children just mispoke on accident. I called my kids in and told them that Einstein did not invent the lightbulb. I was in awe of their response. “Yes he did, my teacher said he did.” Now, because of the other things they said about Einstein, I knew that they weren’t confusing names. Einstein did play the violin, made a type of refrigerator and had crazy hair… but inventing the lightbulb… he did not. But they had formed their opinion already. They were experts. They believed they knew what was fact from one person’s short blurb of a man. And this really bothered me. As I gave them the long version of the history of the ligthbulb they started to believe me and they went and told our neighbor the truth, but I was still bothered. How could my kids be so easily taken by one person’s list of “facts”? And more importantly why is an adult, who obviously doesn’t know anything about Einstein, trying to teach my kids about Einstein without checking her facts?
Closed eyes and deaf ears can only get us so far.
God opened my eyes. How many times had I done the same exact thing? How many opinions had I formed on one person’s short rant? How many times had I passed on false “facts” because it sounded believable? Many, many… too many times. I was an expert in my own closed eyes on too many topics to count. I realized by this small situation with my kids, that God is more than spiritual. He is more than a feeling and more than miracles. He is a God of more than knowing what is right. He is a God of the physical too. He is a God who speaks to us spiritually to extend Himself through our hands physically. He extends His power through our touch, our prayers, our interactions. He created the Heaven’s and the earth by His power (spiritual), but He created man from the dust (physical). He attached His greatest creation, humans, to the earth and told man to cultivate and subdue the land. How can I cultivate and subdue the land if I don’t really know anything about it, or the people who came before me? How can I subdue a land with only wanting the spiritual side of God?
Living with one hand tied behind our backs can only get us so far.
I saw that I was in need of physical knowledge. Not college knowledge. Most college knowledge is only one sided because God is not involved. When God is not involved, the pursuit becomes folly. God showed me that I needed to care about learning about the earth He has given me to cultivate. I needed the discipline of knowledge outside of a classroom. I didn’t need to learn so that I could feel “academic,” but so that I could see and understand His glory in all things. I needed to learn so that when I had seasons of not hearing Him as often as I would like, or my days seemed long and pointless, I could go outside and see that He is with me. I needed to understand more than one side of who God is, so that I could have control over emotions carrying me throughout my days and in conversations. There is great peace in understanding God’s power by knowing how a blade of grass grows, how our eyes see an image, how the clouds are formed. It is a physical way to remember our call over what He has given us when we can’t “feel” Him. The more I started learning, I found my opinions weren’t opinions anymore, but facts. Truths established by God. And when we have facts with the peace of Jesus, instead of emotional opinion, others start listening. And when others start listening, Jesus can speak to the heart of the next generation.
Expecting the next generation to change things can only get us so far.
I think that we all have great hopes of what will come from our children and what they will do for Christ. I know I do. I have great hopes of a land being healed through prayer by His people and the next generation taking a stand. But let us not forget our own charge and duty over the land. Yes we need to pray, yes we need to use our gifts, and yes we need to worship; but we also need to take responsibility over cultivating and subduing the land. This was not only a spiritual call to cultivate in Genesis, but a physical call. Cultivating takes physical knowledge of the systems and laws God established in His world. We live in a time with the easiest access to learn about God’s creation, yet the enemy has blinded the masses with a need to be entertained and filled with emotion. God is more than emotion. He is all.
If we as parents do not have the will to learn and care about God’s creation and what to do with it, how can we expect our children to? If we as parents do not have the will to endure for more than emotion, how will the next generation know what to do with the nation they are given? If Christians are only wanting to fill the church and talk theology at coffee shops, who will run the land? We don’t need to understand the theory of relativity or the curvature of space and time… but we do need to care about knowing God past what makes us comfortable. We need to care about what He has called us to do so that we may have the voice that is heard. We need to start what we hope our children will accomplish. We need to teach them that God is all around from the biggest of miracles, to the ant that crawls under our feet. Love, relationship, cultivate and subdue. They are one, they are not separate. They are all God, and we should learn so we may know and love Him well.
“The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly” (Proverbs 15:14).”