Knowledge is Overrated

My spirituality once boiled down to acquiring a special kind of knowledge (gnosis) that was supposed to get me “above” the grit and grime of life (aka a God-like state).

But here’s what I’ve learned… Gnosis always leads to a fall. It can help with things in life. But if held as an idol, it only leads to disappointment.

“Knowledge relates to and empowers the self, which helps the self solve the everyday problems and hurdles it faces. But when the problem is the self, help must come from outside”

-David Zahl

[Note: I bolded the text above.]

The problem is the (false) self. St. Paul writes it perfectly in Romans 7:14–25

We know what we should do, 
but we find it impossible to do it. 
We know what we shouldn’t do, 
but we find ourselves doing it. 

This is the human condition. Knowledge is great, but it doesn’t soften hearts. And it doesn’t bring about much change beyond the topical level. 

This is where the gospel comes in. The gospel isn’t knowledge. It isn’t information or advice.

I don’t need any more knowledge. I need mercy.

The gospel is good news. News of God’s unconditional love for me and all of creation. News that the divine has entered into the lowly human experience to suffer along with us before redeeming it all.

Thanks to this promise, I’m free to not have it all figured out. I’m free to just… Be. To fumble along this temporary human path as best I can while occasionally remembering that I’ll never rise above the messiness of the human experience. 

And God swoops down to me time and time again to make all things new. 

So. Much. Mercy.