As you may know, in my ‘other’ life I’m a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. I’ve recently finished a manuscript assessment for Australian author Jo Wanmer, and while it’s still a draft full of spelling mistakes and missing commas, the powerful Christian message is shining through.
One of the main threads in the novel is the relationship between Milly, the main character, and God. Jo Wanmer shows God speaking directly to Milly, and I thought many of the conversations were excellent as they show how God desires a relationship with us, and how that means being real with Him (Milly rages at Him, blames Him, and doesn’t mince words in her conversations with Him). It also shows God has a sense of humour, which some readers might find a little irreverent but which I loved.
One snippet from one conversation in particular struck me (with God in bold):
Such is the consequence of man’s decision to choose knowledge instead of relationship with me.
I thought mankind sinned?
That’s what I said.
Now, I’ve read Genesis. In several versions of the Bible. I understand Adam and Eve’s sin wasn’t nakedness (covering themselves was a physical gesture of a spiritual problem, trying to cover their sin). Their sin was disobedience, in eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil after they had specifically been told not to eat fruit from that one tree. They were tempted by the devil, and gave in to that temptation.
But this short excerpt from Jo’s novel brought their sin home in a new way: their sin was the pursuit of knowledge. They wanted that knowledge enough to disobey God. To break that relationship with God, through their disobedience.
And they both chose this, Adam as well as Eve. Eve didn’t force the fruit down his throat. He took it willingly, perhaps because he wanted that knowledge, or perhaps because he wanted to please Eve more than he wanted to please God.
It wasn’t just the pursuit of knowledge—there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with pursuing knowledge, even though Solomon describes knowledge as vanity. Meaningless. Futile.
The problem was choosing the pursuit of knowledge over the pursuit of relationship with God, with Jesus.
It’s a sin we see in the world around us all the time.
There are other, similar, sins. For example, when writing to Timothy, Paul says the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10). He didn’t say money is the root of all evil, but the love of money.
It’s like the love of knowledge.
The love of money leads us to pursue money when we should be pursuing relationship with Jesus.
Earning money, having money, isn’t wrong. It isn’t sin. But loving and pursuing money to the exclusion of relationship with Jesus is wrong. It is sin.
And happiness. Many people in the Western world believe the purpose of life is the pursuit of happiness. Hey, it’s even the title of a movie. Trying to be happy isn’t wrong—it sure beats trying to be unhappy. But pursuing happiness at the expense of relationship with Jesus is wrong. It is sin.
As Jesus says:
Seek God first. Jesus first.
Anything else is sin.
Seek relationship with Jesus. Then the other things will be added to us. But not as some kind of if-you-do-x-God-will-give-you-y pseudo prosperity doctrine. Seek God first. Because anything else is sin.
Seek God first. Then the other things will be added to us. Those other things might be knowledge, money, happiness. But they might also be health, home, joy. And like Paul, we must learn to be content, to accept His gifts and not seek senselessly after knowledge, money, happiness or anything else. In that we will find God’s joy.