When My Telephone Service Was Disconnected
If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13:17
In medical school, I lived with two other guys in a house with an actual telephone on the wall. This was before mobile phones, and so we relied on that phone to communicate with the outside world. One day, much to our dismay, we discovered our phone service had been disconnected. We all blamed each other when we realized that the bill hadn’t been paid in months. The thing is, we all knew the bill had been lying there on the table. We meant to get to it eventually, or we thought that one of the other guys would do it. We understood that it needed to be paid and we knew the consequences of not paying. We just never acted on that knowledge.
This has been a problem for me in my faith and recovery. I’ve read many books on faith, gaining knowledge, without ever changing how I live. When I made my first attempt at recovery, I read AA’s big book in the first week, learning a lot of new things, but I failed to put that knowledge into action. That knowledge alone, couldn’t save me from relapsing. Recovery and faith require action.
Jesus addressed this in today’s passage. In the story, he humbled himself by washing the disciple’s feet – teaching them how to be servants and insisting they must do likewise. He said it wasn’t enough to simply know his teachings. If they wanted the blessed life, their knowledge must translate into action.
This is a profoundly important leap that many of us who call ourselves Christians have failed to make. The Bible says we’re saved by grace through faith, not by what we do, so we make the mistake of thinking that what our behavior doesn’t really matter. Faith though, is knowledge leading to action. We can know all about the Bible and still fail to follow Christ. If we possess right knowledge without ever allowing that knowledge to affect our actions, we don’t have faith.
Jesus said that knowing right is a necessary step, but only a step, to living right. Knowledge alone it useless, unless it leads to a change in behavior. If we find ourselves struggling in our faith, we must go to God, asking him what it is we must do to obey, and then, we must do it.