Do You Have Spiritual Depth?

09.18.13 | by Aarron Schwartz

    I cannot tell you how many times I have heard Christ followers bemoan a lack of depth in teaching or preaching.  It seems to be a constant theme as we equate knowledge with spiritual maturity.  The common thought is that to go “deeper” means more Bible studies.  The more truth we can know, the more satisfied we will be!  While pursuit of knowledge is good, it can lead us on a shallow path if we don’t understand its purpose, and limits.

    Just this last Sunday we read from Ecclesiastes an interesting and debatable passage that relates so well.  As Solomon ponders the question of “meaning” and understanding, he says “God has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, we cannot understand the whole scope of his plan.”  All of us at some time have had a succinct feeling that there is something more than what is in front of us.  Unfortunately, its something we cannot fully grasp.  In fact, I would argue that we can hardly grasp it at all.  This makes the alternate translation of the verse very interesting.  Based on the lack of vowel markings in ancient Hebrew, the word commonly translated “eternity” can also be translated “ignorance.”  This would change the verse to read “God has placed “ignorance” in the human heart so we cannot understand the whole scope of His plan.”

    While I am not sure which is the correct translation, both are true!  He has given us a longing for eternity, and placed the guarantee of it within us in the form of His Spirit.  At the same time, we are reminded by the apostle Paul that we see “through a glass darkly.”   Yet we remain obsessed with understanding the whole scope of God’s eternal plan!  In fact, we often define spiritual “depth” by how much of it we think we comprehend.

    At the age of about six, I was introduced to the idea of “forever.” I cannot recall the context or occasion, but I do vividly remember being spellbound by the concept.  I simply could not wrap my brain around it.  That, however, did not keep me from trying.  My futile quest came in the form of an obsession with two mirrors that faced one another in the front hallway of our house.   At some point I noticed that if I looked in one mirror I could see the reflection of the one behind me which was a reflection of the one in front of me, and so on and so on. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before.  I would stand for long periods of time staring into the mirror to see how many reflections I could see.  It was mind boggling, and the closest I have ever come to understanding “forever.”  I don’t think it’s much different than trying to understand the whole scope of God’s plan!  There is so much we simply cannot fathom!

    I find it interesting that as we look at the teachings of Christ, He leaves so many things unexplained, and unfinished.  However, there are some teachings He makes abundantly clear.  We are to love God, and love people.  He says it in many different ways by parable, object lesson, and ultimately through the cross!  This morning as I was reading Galatians, I was struck by how simply Paul says, “The whole law can be summed up in this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  The. Whole. Law. Wow!  What if we defined spiritual “depth” not by theological concepts grasped, or scripture memorized, but how “deeply” we love our neighbor?  Obviously I am not recommending you discard the former, but without the latter, what good is knowledge?

    I am the shallowest of men; if I argue over the unknowable, but ignore my coworker in despair.  I am the shallowest of men; if I sing of the undeserved grace of God, yet harbor unforgiveness against my brother.  I am the shallowest of men; if I preach the value of the family, yet neglect meaningful time with my own!  True Biblical “depth” is painful, but with it comes an intimacy with God and others that cannot be replaced by knowledge.  Remember, the centerpiece of God’s plan is Jesus’ death and resurrection that demonstrated both His trust in God, and love of His children! We were created and saved to do good works, not just to believe good doctrine.  Pursue the wisdom of God, and then use it to love Him and others more deeply!

    Aarron

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