Are We Unaware That We Are Disagreeing With Jesus?

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I often hear, “It’s not about a head knowledge. It’s about a heart knowledge.”

Is this true? Is Christianity primarily meant to be experiential? Are we not supposed to care about knowledge and growing in our understanding of God?

The reality is that I think that there are three main reasons for this:

1. We have setup false dichotomies in our belief system. For example, we say, “Christianity is not a religion… it’s a relationship.” We say this as if it is one or the other. In all reality it is both. In doing this, we tend to oversimplify complex things of our faith. Sometimes being fearful of the unhealthy ways that people of past generations have viewed and lived out Christianity, so we try to overcompensate.

2. We are taught that the Pharisee’s problem was that they studied the ins and outs of theology. In all reality that was not the problem! The problem wasn’t their devotion to theology. Their problem was that they were hypocrites and had bad theology.

We tend to say things like, “God used uneducated disciples to change the world.” By doing this, we glorify a lack of education. We forget that Paul was a Pharisee and wrote most of our New Testament. His education, knowledge, and pedigree was outstanding, and he used it for his advantage to write and teach with authority. He used strong literary principles of the Jewish people of that day, he flawlessly used his knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures to spread the gospel, and he pointed people to Christ because of his intellect.

3. We have become more Biblically illiterate, and we are okay with it. This is not something that we need to be shamed about, but I believe that we have made excuses as to why we don’t care to put in the work to know more about scripture and know more about God.

In our modern churches, our main focus is normally outsiders. We use this as the reason to build “experiences”, because yes, it is important for people to experience God. If we don’t move people into engaging the rest of their being (mind, body, belongings, etc.) it will only be experience deep.

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I want to build a case with both Jesus’s and Paul’s teachings.

Let’s look at one of Jesus’s interactions:

Matthew 22:37
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

Remember, theology wasn’t the the pharisee’s problem. Bad theology was! In this passage, they asked about taxes, they asked about marriage, and then they asked about the greatest commandment. Not only were they trying to trap Jesus, they were looking for simple answers. To them, loving God was just about minimal behaviors that they can check off. It wasn’t about caring about knowing God or knowing about Him.

Jesus replied by basically telling them to love God with all that you are! So what does it mean than to “love God with all of your mind?” I believe that it can be boiled down to this phrase, learn to think about God well! 

This means that if we do not care about head knowledge, we are challenging Jesus. We are telling Him that we don’t agree with what He says about the greatest commandment.

Lastly, let’s look at Paul.

Romans 12 
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

There are three things mentioned in these verses that flow into one another:

Worship -> Renewing of your mind -> Knowing God’s will

So many Christians want to know God’s will. They stress about God’s will. This passage tells us that if we want to know God’s will, we need to renew our mind. This isn’t a one time thing! This is a continual thing! If we continually want to know what God asks and expects from us, we need to continually grow in our knowledge of Him and His truths. We see the world and interact with our world fully based on what we believe. If we want to see and interact with the world like Jesus, our thoughts need to be continually shaped that direction.

This starts with seeking to follow what Jesus was talking about. Love God with all that you are. Offer all that you are to Him (mind, body, heart, etc.).  Oh and by the way… this is the definition of “worship” that is mentioned in Romans 12.

It is not about having a heart knowledge or a head knowledge. That is a false dichotomy. It is about offering all of it and growing in all of it with Jesus!

If you are interested in more resources:

Check out an older post of mine called “Good Will Hunting and Free Bible Education” for online Bible education for free.

You can also check out ntwrightonline.org

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6 thoughts on “Are We Unaware That We Are Disagreeing With Jesus?

  1. David, it’s a good post, but I’m not sure I agree with the first point …

    “1. We have setup false dichotomies in our belief system. For example, we say, “Christianity is not a religion… it’s a relationship.” We say this as if it is one or the other. In all reality it is both. In doing this, we tend to oversimplify complex things of our faith. Sometimes being fearful of the unhealthy ways that people of past generations have viewed and lived out Christianity, so we try to overcompensate.”

    To me, Christianity is a religion, but it’s one that, just like Islam, Buddhism, Judaism or Hinduism, you can hide behind. Christianity is much different. It is a relationship. I always tell people I’m not a Christian — I am a spirit-filled believer with a relationship with Jesus Christ. I don’t want to have anything to do with the legalism or the denominationalism that comes with the stigma of being a “Christian.” I don’t believe that I’m trying to overcompensate for anything. I’m just trying to live out and grow my relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit every day. Otherwise, again, I really liked your post.

    1. Shawn,
      Thank you so much for reading my post and giving feedback! It means a lot. I really wish that I could have flushed out the “Christianity is not a religion… it’s a relationship” line more in this post, but the word count was already getting high. It can almost be a blog post in itself for sure.

      I am not advocating Christianity to be a mindless, relation less, list of habits that we do or just a checklist of beliefs. What I am most concerned about in the statement “Christianity is not a religion… it’s a relationship” is the same reason I am concerned about the statement “It is about heart knowledge and not head knowledge”. We are making an extreme statement in reaction to something. We have seen people go to church and then think they are christians. We have seen many people hurt and abused because of religious systems within Christianity. We have seen people that focus on religious business and habits over having a relationship with God. This is what people are reacting against, but is saying that it is not a religion true?

      Webster defines “religion” as:
      -(1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
      – : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

      I believe that this definition is not an unhealthy one. It actually represents many of our church communities. If I say that I am a follower of Jesus… It then means that I believe that I worship because and though Him, I am committed to attending a faith community that attempts to practice the way of Jesus together, I also come under some basic beliefs and doctrine about who God is, who Jesus is, who man is, what the Bible is. By this, I would say that to follow Jesus, you can not help but say that you are part of a religion by definition. The question isn’t around if it is religion or not. The question is if it is bad religion. I think to say that following Jesus is not about religion is to throw out much (or even little) of what our faith is founded on and how it is practiced. We have redefined and misdefined “religion” in order to react against unhealthy religious practices.

      Another one of my fears is that in our reaction, we have overcompensated to a faith that is only (or mostly) private and personal. In doing this, it would make since that we are not involved in communities and structures. This is not how Jesus or Paul understood faith. To them, faith was best practiced while in process with a community.

      Lastly, Jesus was not against religious leaders. He was against bad religious leaders. As a matter of fact, Jesus was a religious leader. He was one of 5 known rabbis of the the time under the Jewish religious system. So his disciples were ones that He was teaching his way (or yoke – interpretation of the law and how it is lived practically). This is what makes Him so amazing. His yoke (religious system) was about loving God and one another, but it was easy and light (Matthew 11:28-30). In this fell caring for people in need (James 1:27, Matthew 25). I often hear that Jesus came to do away with religion. Even He said that He didn’t come to do away with religion and it’s practices (Matthew 5:17). Jesus wasn’t against religion. He was for it, and He taught us what good (proper and right) religion was.

      I touch on this more in my podcast episode:
      https://anchor.fm/idoubtit/episodes/EP-1-I-Doubt-It—Religion-vs–Relationship-e15070/a-a2j87e

      Thank you again for reading and challenging me. It means a lot! Hopefully I brought some clarity on my perspective on the statement that you mentioned.

      1. Hey David, you did bring clarity and you explained your heart well. Faith indeed is not a private thing. It needs to be a community thing. You can have your own personal relationship with Christ, but what expectations come with that? For sure, to share Christ with others and get involved in the community so that you can develop relationships to share Christ. And yes, I do believe Jesus taught us what religion should be. We must model it all times.

        Love the banter with you, David. Keep up the good work and the good writing, my brother. May God continue to bless you and may the Holy Spirit guide you in all of your writing!

        Shawn

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