This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 ESV
For the last few weeks we have been talking about what the word discipleship means from a reflective lifestyle, to authentic community, and last week we looked at radical obedience. Those two words alone are enough to cause you to pause, radical, hmmm that sounds challenging. Jesus makes it clear in John 14 as he calls his disciples, “Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” Jesus tells his disciples that everyone who follows Him does what he commands them to. What makes this radical is that the norm in most churches is to obey Jesus in those commands that you like, find comfortable, or are strong at, don’t worry as much about those commands that make you uncomfortable, or are outside your skill set.
What you hear in 1 Corinthians 8 is a reminder about what it looks like to be a disciple. It is important as a disciples of Jesus that you know enough of the bible to know what commands Jesus is talking about following. Yet living in an information age, it is natural for us to make simple acquisition of knowledge the end goal. 1 Corinthians 8 reminds us that as disciples, unless our knowledge of God and scripture is reflective in a deep love for God and our neighbor, then we have learned nothing. If you really know God’s Word, which we know to be alive and active (Hebrews 4:12), then it should deeply change us by knowing it. If it doesn’t maybe we don’t know it as well as we think.
Early church theologian Augustine of Hippo speaks about radical obedience this way, “So anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbor, has not yet succeeded in understanding them.” Radical obedience can be seen in this living out of a double love: love of God and love of neighbor. So is the gospel in your life lived out deeply, does the love of God and love for your neighbor ooze from your pores? Can people see how your capacity love God and your neighbor is growing, or better, how are you growing that capacity as a disciple of Jesus? Jesus call is to be a people who are transformed by the Holy Spirit, whose knowledge of scripture means we can’t see the world or people the same way anymore, who are so loved by God, that they can’t help but share that same love with others contagiously, who are the light of the world and salt of the earth. I want to be that, knowing it will be a process filled with imperfection, and missteps, but one I can’t imagine not doing.