Sunday, February 5, 2012

Black Holes

I was doing a little thinking this afternoon about the purpose of knowledge. Odd topic.  Someone made an offhanded comment to me which started me thinking about it; the comment itself doesn't really matter - but the scripture that came to my mind was the one in II Timothy 3 which describes those people who will be around in the last days (and most of us would agree that we are living in those) - people who will be lovers of money, malicious gossips, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, and a whole host of other nasty things.  But what popped out at me from that passage today was that they would creep into widows' houses (preying on loneliness and capitalizing on them having too much time to think, perhaps), "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth..." (vs 7, NASB)

I got this image in my mind of black holes.  A singularity (or black hole) is said to form when the gravity of a star becomes so great that it starts to "suck" in other stars and other matter - space dust, nebulae - toward it.  Nothing can escape from it, not even light.  It is constantly taking things in.  Yet it only takes; it never gives.  

Source (via Google Images):
I know a few people who are somewhat like that.  Appearing to be spiritual, they gather opinions from others without forming any of their own, and they run from commentary to concordance to Bible study book, this to that to the other Bible teacher, attend conference after spiritual retreat after convention - all in a quest to know more.  Yet they are spending their lives doing all of that instead of actually living the life they're learning about, gaining vicarious pleasure out of others' revelations.  They use people as tools to gather information and don't form relationships with them; they major on minor points as if they were all-important, developing them into elaborately thought-out belief systems - about things that don't really matter.  I believe the common expression is trying to figure out "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin!" 

Those who are practical, relatively healthy believers consider this type of esoteric conversation to be too "cosmic" for their tastes.  Meanwhile, lonely, disenfranchised people are attracted to it because after all, the black hole seems interested in their point of view, validates their own notions of what life is about, draining what light they have out of them. Not until they get too close and are unable to escape, and get swallowed up, used up and discarded, do they realize the interest was only to satisfy some sort of unquenchable desire to learn more.  

Paul likens these 'singularities' to the Egyptian priests Jannes and Jambres, who mimicked the miracles that Moses performed before Pharaoh (turning rods into snakes and water the color of blood). People whose only reason for seeking spiritual things is so that they can say they have discovered this or that secret and in some way profit from it - even if only to stroke their egos.  People who appear to be godly - but who have no idea or interest (except in an intellectual way) in how to live their daily lives in the Spirit.  In essence, they are denying His power (vs 5a).  Paul has one piece of advice in how to deal with these individuals.  He doesn't say to stick around and try to reason with them. He considers them dangerous. His advice takes the form of a one-word thought. Run. "Avoid them!" (vs 5b)

Paul goes on to instruct Timothy to continue in what he has already been taught, to keep the Main Thing as the main thing - and to delve into the Scriptures - for they are what can teach, reprove, correct, and instruct in how to live rightly, in order to be mature and equipped for every good work.  (vss 14-16).  

I need to pay more attention to what God has to say than what people do, especially when what people say doesn't line up with what God says, or misrepresents Him.  God can use people, and He has used them in my life - I am so very grateful for that.  But when people begin to be my source, instead of what God has to say, then I run the risk of either being sucked into a black hole ... or becoming one.

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