July 12, 2013

Knowledgeable is Not Omniscient

I woke this morning at 4:30. Never mind why. While pondering other things, I decided to take advantage of some quiet in the house and read some of Galatians. This book of the Bible, particularly in the Message rendering (contemporary language) helps me greatly during devotional reading.

While reading in Galatians 4, I had the shock of seeing Adam & Eve's fruit snacking in an entirely different way. It has nothing to do with old earth vs. new earth, allegory vs. literal tale, or anything along those lines. No Lilith, I promise.

I thought about how they ate fruit from the tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil. They were drawn in by the ability to be like God, "knowing good and evil," as the snake promised.

When I'm willing to listen (which happens less often than I would like), I believe my conscience nudges me in identifying good vs. evil. If I feel uneasy about something, I don't do it. Simple enough.

The problem comes in thinking that my 'sense' of what's good and what's bad is the correct interpretation. It's pretty universal that we consider some things good (getting a raise) and some bad (losing a home in a fire). What if that isn't what things look like from God's perspective? What if winning the lottery is actually a bad thing because of the stresses and strains it puts on relationships in the years to come? What if losing that job is actually what frees me up to pursue my abiding passion, the thing I was born to do?

I started thinking along these lines because of some pretty big instances of this in my own life. It seems normal to say that falling 30 feet onto concrete is universally bad. But for our family, it brought many good things into our relationship, increased our time together, and was filled with gratitude throughout. Isn't that backwards? What about King Hezekiah, who was told by a prophet of God that he was going to die? Hezekiah pleaded with God for life, and God gave it to him. But it was after Hezekiah was healed that visitors from Babylon came, and Hezekiah bragged about all he had--paving the way for Babylon to come back and invade Israel when Hezekiah's son was on the throne. If Hezekiah had died initially, the envoys might have considered Jerusalem worth a miss. So... was it good or bad that Hezekiah lived through his illness?

Please don't misunderstand me: I do not ever think it's appropriate to go to someone diagnosed with cancer and tell them that it's a blessing. I wouldn't ever tell someone wrestling with tragedy that they have it wrong and should be rejoicing. I am saying I want room in my life for even my default definitions of what spells 'good' in my life and what is 'bad' to have longer definitions. I've been able to see some long-term harvests that have me wondering. Some of the hardest times for me have brought the greatest benefit, and I say without hesitation that I would go through it again.

Thinking I know what something will do in my life (knowledge of good & evil) is not nearly the same thing as knowing fully what will happen (omniscience).

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