Thursday, October 29, 2009

When knowledge doesn't equal wisdom

Have you seen the commercials for one of the new search engines available on the internet? There’s a whole series of them, and each address the problem of information overload in this information age. In one, a wife asks her husband if he’s booked the tickets to Hawaii yet. Instead of answering her, he begins rattling off useless trivia about our fiftieth state. It’s a funny commercial. You can watch it here. It’s also reality. Who of us hasn’t attempted to find some bit of information only to be buried by the torrent of data available online?

When the Bible speaks of knowledge, it almost always connects it to wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge to righteous living. Every generation needs wisdom, but perhaps none so much as ours. How do we sort through the mountains of different opinions, the oceans of data, and the unending streams of new information in order to make our way wisely in this world?

Better search engines may help, but they’re hardly the final answer. What we need is perspective. What we need is a little distance – so that we might see the forest for all the trees. Of course, confined to our own little perches, we have trouble getting high enough to get such a glimpse. And then we remember, there is one who stands above it all. One who knows all things. While we may never fully gain his perspective, he does invite us into his presence, which just might make all the difference.

The trouble is, we hardly take our eyes off our screens long enough to look up and look for him. Fasting has often been a way people connect with God’s presence. This usually involves the giving up of something valuable in order to seek something even more worthwhile – like the giving up of food in order to use the time normally set aside for eating for seeking God’s presence in prayer. New technologies might demand new fasts. What would it look like to unplug for a day? What if during that day, every time you felt the urge to check for messages you stopped and said a prayer?

You might experience a little information withdrawal. You might miss some piece of news others receive. And you might, just might, find a little wisdom instead.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding – Proverbs 9:10.

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