“All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
Years ago, I jotted down this quote from T.S. Eliot’s famous essay, “Choruses from the Rock.” Since then, I have transferred it to various study notebooks as a constant reminder that indeed the wisdom of the world does not bring us nearer to God. When we draw near to God through the Holy Spirit, however, we come into the presence of truth, and it is that truth that sets us free. Truth is revealed not apart from God, through our own intellect, but by the Spirit to men’s hearts.
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:12-13).
Indeed, the gift of the Spirit came empowering, awakening, teaching, guiding and revealing to us mere creatures true spiritual knowledge. Truths that man could never know apart from a guide, and truths they could never understand apart from a teacher. Man as a creature is fully indebted to the Creator. He lives by God’s grace and discovers the unknown only when God chooses to reveal it. It is only by His hand and in His timing that we are shown what is and what things are to come.
Eliot’s questions are profound and challenging. Let us explore for a moment the deep importance of the inquiry: “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?” Ponder this question and its modern relevance to the growing weaknesses in our national defense against immorality, socialism and America’s Christian foundation. Surely, we can see that in all our advancement, some things have been lost.
Jesus’ promise to guide us into all truth by the infilling of the Holy Spirit is a profound promise beyond measure. This promise surely included more than just discovering the mysteries of the universe but also the real and meaningful knowledge of living and being. As Eliot asked, “Where’s the life we lost in living?” The modern world’s quest to understand space, digital technology, medicine and the power of the human mind has certainly moved us forward, but what was the trade-off? Think of all the communication arts, beautiful ways in which we used to interact with others and even our world, now lost to technology.
Thankfully, most who enter quest for knowledge mostly do so in the interest of bettering our world and overcoming its weaknesses, but there are some for whom the quest is much more sinister. It becomes about power, domination and, ultimately, control. And … the searching will never cease. The desire for knowledge will forever be man’s passion.
Our minds are our most valuable gift. We should develop and expand them. But while we are pushing into new worlds of knowledge and boasting of our human advances, what might we be missing? Just as we know that money, self-serving political power, carnal pleasures, and other such things do not fulfill our lives or stabilize our futures, man should consider that our great advances may contain hidden seeds of destruction.
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection …” was the Apostle Paul’s desire (Philippians 3:10). He was reaching for higher knowledge, life after death, and the peace attached to such hope. Christ promised the greatest element of man’s journey through this world, His peace. The promise of His peace and contentment that we receive through the infilling of His Spirit conquers our doubts and soothes our fears.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). “My peace!” Dare we show disinterest or set aside the great gift of peace? His peace. Of all the things men have accomplished, and no doubt they shall continue to unfold great inventions and surprising possibilities, one great failure looms. Mankind continues in a restless daze of drunkenness, killing, warring, stealing, conquering – there is no peace aside from His spirit.
There is much that He might say to us. There is much wisdom we might add to our knowledge, life we could add to living, knowledge we might add to all the information we are consuming, but it must come through the Holy Spirit. We must desire it. We must seek it. It is only then that we will experience the true peace of God, which will lead us beyond all of our own understanding and keep our hearts and mind through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).