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Ministry professionals bowing at the tree of knowledge

God gave Adam two options and He gives us the same two options. At the tree of life you get fulfillment. At the tree of knowledge, the question “why?” never has a satisfactory answer. Why do bad things happen to good people? Does God choose some people to go to hell? How old is the earth? These a…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

God gave Adam two options and He gives us the same two options. At the tree of life you get fulfillment. At the tree of knowledge, the question “why?” never has a satisfactory answer. Why do bad things happen to good people? Does God choose some people to go to hell? How old is the earth? These are good questions, but they are fruit of the tree of knowledge.

People have a lot of questions for God that they ask their pastors. But ultimately, they don’t come to ministry professionals for knowledge. They come for life.

Jesus promised us life to the full. Somehow, I look around and a lot of professional ministers are bowing down at the wrong tree. They want to know more. They’re forever reading new books, attending new conferences, getting new degrees. It’s all good stuff, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to stop asking “why?” and bow down at the tree of life.

Over the years I’ve gotten into discussions with pastors whose primary gift to the world is their Sunday morning sermon. That sermon is a big deal, never mind that the people listening to it are never actually challenged and held accountable to change their lives. Never mind that it’s a tiresome recitation of facts. Never mind that people can’t remember what he said last month. Somehow these pastors have gotten into a continuous loop which has them discipling people to bow down at the tree of knowledge.

This morning I was at a megachurch. The sermon was on maturing in Christ, based on Hebrews 5:11-6:3. It was good stuff – good exegesis. He compared those who listen to sermons and don’t apply what they say to sponges. He admonished us to move beyond elementary teachings and get in the game. At the end of the sermon, the pastor closed his Bible and we sang a song and that was it. Some how, just listening to the sermon was going to provoke change and those who were stuck in a beginner’s rut were going to start growing.

What a paradox! Good teaching, right prescription, but in the end, just knowledge without application and accountability. The very thing he was preaching against was the thing that he was perpetuating.

Sometimes I look at Adam and cuss him out for all the pain he visited on us, yet I hungrily devour books feeding my intellect while neglecting my spirit.

We’ve got to get away from the tree of knowledge and begin bowing down at the tree of life.

Comments (2)

  • I had a similar experience in a seminary class. The teacher spoke plainly of the need for discipling relationally and personally like Jesus did…Jesus didn’t use the classroom approach, just giving knowledge without loving, do-ministry-together life. Yet we were sitting in the classroom listening to him, and had no opportunity or leadership to apply what he said. How hard it is to break out of the rut even when we know and want better. We have struggled with this also – defaulting. Thanks, Seth, for your daily, continuous call for “radical living in a comfortable world.” It is making a difference, and we’re on our way to climbing up and out.

  • Seth, this is really good! It definitely gives me something new to pray about, as I have some opportunities to pray through! I am a knowledge junkie, but I am more of a Jesus Freak! I really do like this, Seth!!!!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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