Have courage to seek the truth

"How much more important it is to get knowledge than gold and to choose wisdom rather than silver!" Proverbs Ch 16v16

It is often said that the South of England is particularly wealthy and affluent. While this may be true in one sense, the Bible regards real wealth in terms of one's "knowledge and acceptance of God." Scripture describes a certain kind of individual who thinks "I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing" while refusing to see that in reality they are actually "poor, miserable, blind and naked." (Rev Ch 3v13)

The story is told about a poor preacher who was travelling on a ship with a large group of wealthy merchants. In the course of their conversation one of the merchants asked the preacher what his business was. He replied, "I suppose you could say that my business is giving people knowledge and information on how to live and find happiness. Such knowledge is invaluable." Several of the merchants ridiculed him; one cried "How do you sell knowledge?" Another joked "I suppose he trades information and guidance for bread and wine"!

Partway through the journey pirates overtook the ship and stripped the passengers of all their goods. Only the preacher who carried no valuables was unaffected.
Finally, when they landed, the preacher began to give talks to the town folk imparting his knowledge on how to live and where to find the happiness only God can bring. These talks created great interest and attracted large audiences from the whole area. He explained that Jesus was actually "The Way, the Truth and the Life" (John ch14v6) and that knowledge and acceptance of this fact would change their lives forever. (St Augustine taught the same thing, often telling people that God has made us for Himself and that our hearts will remain restless and weary until they rest in Him.) Soon the preacher made friends and settled into the community as a respected leader and useful guide. On the other hand the merchants now dressed in rags were unable to find employment. Finally in desperation they called upon the preacher for help and asked him to use his influence to get them jobs. This he graciously did, and after he had found work for them all, the merchants realised the truth – that having knowledge of God and the understanding this brought about how to live, was indeed of greater value than mere material possessions.

Today, many people have fallen into the trap of regarding wealth in terms of material possessions. They feel they are better off than previous generations and of course in one sense they are. The reality however, is that in the way that really counts, many people are poorer and are spiritually poverty stricken and starving. Society is richer in material things but it has also lost something and that "something" is quite profound. We see the symptoms of this loss every day in how unhappy and discontented people have become; how selfish and greedy and awkward! What has been lost is the knowledge of God and the understanding this brings about how to be happy, content and at peace in one's soul. Scripture describes such people as ones who spoil and destroy their lives through a lack of this knowledge. (Hosea Ch4v6). They may be well educated enough to know how to put a man on the moon, but they lack Godly knowledge on how to live with themselves and their fellow man on earth!

Our society is broken because many people no longer know the basic laws of God which were designed to bring happiness and order to their lives and that of their families. They haven't the least knowledge or understanding of the meaning of life and what we are here for. They haven't any idea of where to look for guidance, hope and strength when life gets tough and they lack the perception that they are accountable to a Holy God for all their thoughts, words and actions.

Gaining a knowledge of God and learning about (and obeying) the laws He has given us, answers all these profound questions and would bring instant relief. Unfortunately, however to attain this Godly knowledge and help there is one big obstacle individuals often have to overcome-- family and friends!

I have encountered numerous individuals who have indeed sensed that turning to Jesus Christ and gaining knowledge of Him would help them at the depths of their being. They have sensed that Christ is indeed "The Way, the Truth and the Life". But bizarrely the moment they start exploring these spiritual matters they face ridicule, often from those who claim to love them most, namely family and friends! "Oh you're not going to church again are you, you went last month"? "Oh you‘re not reading the Bible again, that's two days in a row. It's such a waste of your time." What about kind words such as "Well, if it makes you happy I am pleased for you"? It's as though those around them don't want that person to find answers. They are lost themselves and have the attitude "let's all sit in this empty confusion together." And so it can take courage for individuals to seek knowledge of God and not let others put them off finding the answers to life.

This is the moral behind one of the most peculiar stories I have ever come across. It is a story from Ethiopia used to teach people to have the courage of their convictions and not be put off by the lies of those around them.

Once upon a time a man was taking his prize lamb to market. Three thieves plotted to steal this lamb in a unique way, simply by telling lies about it! As the man was walking along with the lamb over his shoulders, the first thief approached him and asked "Why are you carrying that dog on your shoulders?" The man laughed and replied "This is not a dog, it's my prize lamb which I am taking to market." Some time later the second thief approached him and said "What a fine looking dog you have, where are you taking it?" Puzzled the man took the lamb off his shoulders, looked at it carefully and said "It's a lamb and I am taking it to market." Shortly before he reached the market the third thief met the man and said "Sir I don't think they will allow you to take your dog into the market." Completely confused, the man took the lamb off his shoulders, left it on the ground and walked away in disgust. "I was convinced this was a lamb but if three other people say it's a dog then it must be a dog."

So likewise, there are many who are rightly convinced that the answer to life's problems, lies with knowing Christ, but they will also require the courage of their convictions to complete this learning because there are those who would try to deter them. The key to happiness is knowing God. Knowing how to live in a right relationship with God and being at peace with Him is real wealth and treasure and what really matters. Others may say differently, but a lamb is always a lamb no matter what others may say and God continues to be God no matter how others may deny Him!