At our church staff meeting today, we looked at this reading from Matthew 11:25-30:
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Somehow I haven’t heard this passage combined in quite this way before. I had not made a connection between God hiding things from the wise and intelligent and Jesus appealing to the weary to come to Him for rest. This passage comes in the context of Jesus’ rejection in the towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. He has just told these towns that what happened to Sodom is better than what will happen to them. Presumably, he was heckled by some “wise” and arrogant people in those towns from whom God had hidden His true wisdom.
I wonder if Jesus would have similar things to say today about all the Christians who are ruthless in their pursuit of knowing exactly everything there is to know about Him, who want to figure out exactly what the gospel is (in ten words or less) and all the arguments they can make to shoot down all the counterfeit gospels that are out there (because there can only be one gospel and I’m the one who has to know it).
In 1 Corinthians 8:1, Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up.” There is an unhealthy idolatry of knowledge in evangelical Christian culture. It’s one thing to delight in learning about God; it’s another thing to want to own all of the knowledge you possibly can about God. I’ve been reading a book about power by Andy Crouch called Playing God. He says that the healthy kind of power is the creativity and culture-making which emulates God’s nature as a creator. Unhealthy power is not interested in creativity; it simply wants control. The delight of learning is about participating in God’s song. Pursuing the hegemony of knowledge is about wanting to be God.
It’s a completely different posture for learning when you come to Jesus in search of rest because you are weary and carrying a heavy burden. It’s like the speaker of Psalm 42 who is desperate to find the living God whose face is salvation because His presence is shalom. To learn for the purpose of learning how to rest more deeply in Jesus is the journey of discipleship. It is not a glamorous kind of knowledge, but one gained by putting a yoke around one’s neck and practicing the presence of God.
The wise are those who rest in Jesus, regardless of how many Bible verses they have memorized, how many six-syllable words they know like soteriology, how many conferences they get invited to speak at. I imagine that many simple people, some of whom might not even know how to read, are wiser than I am in this wisdom that matters. How long will it take me to unlearn my need to build a Babel tower of Jesus-knowledge that’s taller than the one the fundamentalists are building? How long will it take me to learn that what I need is not a tower of knowledge but to be yoked to the One who can give me rest?