Confessions of a Glutton

I am a glutton.  Gluttony is consuming so much more of what would normally make you healthy that most of it just comes out the other end wasted, leaving you worse off than you would have been without it.  It is a behavior that started in college, where I had unhampered access to...knowledge.  That's right, I'm a glutton of knowledge, and my favorite delicacy is spiritual knowledge.  (Perhaps this is why Paul said that "Knowledge puffs up").  Three days a week at Wheaton College I would hear an informative and inspiring message.  And 99% of the time, I did exactly nothing about them.  To be fair, it wasn't like I could have easily signed on to a new cause three times a week, or applied every spiritual discipline, or read every book that was mentioned. I guess I do blame Wheaton a bit.  But this gluttony didn't subside when I graduated.  
Just this week I found myself feeling a bit starved of God's presence, and what did I do?  I grabbed a book on spiritual growth and started to read.  I analyzed the arguments, I critiqued the theology, but most importantly I indulged my gluttonous lust for more ideas and words and analogies, rather than spending the 30 min doing something that would actually contribute to my spiritual growth!  Irony!
I guess Jesus knew people like me, because he ended his most profound and comprehensive sermon with an unforgettable image.  Two men build houses a storm rolls into town and one house falls because it was built on sand, not rock.  "That's what it'll be like," Jesus says, "if you just listen, and analyze and teach and memorize my words but fail to act on them.  You've got to take those ideas and words that blow around in the wind like sand, and turn them into rock solid actions.  A sermon heard is a bunch of nice words, but a sermon lived, is wisdom."
It is said that John, the Gospel writer, used to get up to preach to his church late in his life and say "Little children, love one another" and return to his seat.  And he'd do the same thing week after week.  I've sometimes wondered what would happen if preachers would refuse to move onto the next sermon, the next topic, the next passage, until we pew sitters actually did something about what had been said.  Until we had actually acted on God's Word.  I still wonder.  
If you're like me, you probably 'know' more about Christianity than you really need to be a good Christian.  You almost certainly know more than virtually all of the Christians in the early church, who celebrated the arrival of a circular letter from Paul.  If we only acted intentionally and  consistently on 1% of what we know...we'd all be saints.  So I'm going on a diet: I'll be cutting back on my knowledge consumption and increasing my exercise of the knowledge I already have.  How about you, do you need a knowledge diet? 


  1. As a pastor the pressure to consume the latest and greatest books, thoughts, sermons is never ending. It is difficult to dive deeply into one or two authors and let it saturate your entire being. Instead I find myself reading so widely I am only able to skim the surface of everything. I am caught in the spiritual rat race... Your thoughts provoke in me a sense of action, hope and real life. Please keep writing.

  2. It is good to be filled with a desire to serve others. But I would say that there are some types of service that require a lot of study and thinking in advance. Lawyers, doctors, and scientists spend many years in training before having real responsibility for serving others. Many books must be mastered, and many doctrines memorized before they can be truly useful to their clients.

    I think Paul's organic metaphor for the church has some relevance here. God doesn't want everybody in the church to spend lots of time reading. But there must be a few whom he has called to do so. And those few shouldn't self-flagellate because there aren't others surrounding them who are called to do the same.