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It’s Who You Know

Some kinds of knowledge prove to be pretty useless. Reader's Digest told about a German in Paris, looking for directions. He pulled up to a bus stop where two Americans were waiting. "Entschuldigung, sprechen Sie deutsch?" he asks. The two Americans just stare at him. "Parlez-vous francais? " the German says. The two continue to stare, so the German tries again: "Parlate italiano?" No response. For the fourth time the German tries: "Hablan ustedes espanol?" Still nothing but blank stares. Frustrated, the German drives off. The first American turns to his friend and said, "You know, we should learn a foreign language." The second responds, "Why? He knew four languages, and it didn't dc him any good." Who really needed directions in that story?! The story illustrates that being even very brilliant can still leave us with very definite limitations. G. M. Trevelyan reminds us there is more to knowledge than just stuffing a brain full of empirical facts and information. He said, "Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading." America is proving that higher education does not guarantee higher moral character and conduct or greater powers of moral discernment. More people have higher degrees in learning than ever before. But the naked and sad truth is that, in spite of the high intellectual and academic peaks we have scaled, modern America is in the lowlands, morally speaking. Many see our culture in serious moral decline, and it is difficult to disagree. Life has become a minefield of things which are death on social, moral, spiritual, and even physical well-being. There is no longer a shared code of decency in speech, sexual behavior, public dress, entertainment, etc. Morally, the question seems similar to the one the old dance called The Limbo asked — "How low can you go?" In spite of our highly educated minds, we are the divorcing-est nation on earth. Families have cell phones and plans that allow unlimited minutes of talk, but don't know how to communicate and live together under the same roof. Prison cells bulge with record numbers of citizens housed as inmates. Millions are drug-addicted (illegal and prescription). Profanity, vulgarity, indecency, and immorality have saturated and coarsened our culture. Millions enjoy high levels of education, income and material wealth, yet possess low levels of things money can't buy — happiness at home, love, meaning, a higher purpose than pursuit of pleasure and material comforts and conveniences.

Enough of that. How should Christians live in a world so mentally smart but morally dumb? A strategy is found in a truly higher source of learning and knowledge — the Holy Bible. Ephesiens 5:15-17 lays it out: "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." This passage of Scripture brings to mind the old adage related to getting ahead in life, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." That may be true some of the time when it comes to making money. But as regards moral living and eternal life, that is the truth all of the time! The Bible educates not only our mental mind, but our moral mind as well. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what you know if you don't know God.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ