For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. -Genesis 3:5
I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me. -Job 10:2
“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” -John 8:31-32
Dear members and friends,
The importance of obtaining and utilizing knowledge was praised and emphasized by all ancient, enlightened people. Confucius taught, “Knowing by learning is the only way of self-cultivation.” Buddha taught, “knowing your true self is enlightenment.” And Socrates taught, “Knowing yourself is wisdom.” The act of knowing seems to include three important actions: acquiring knowledge, processing and understanding the knowledge, and implementing the knowledge. In my observation, these days nearly anyone who is willing is able to acquire desired knowledge. In fact, there’s a flood of information readily available, including that which might be false and harmful. Thus, it’s more important than ever to learn how to process and understand knowledge.
According to the Bible, the human journey began with curiosity about knowledge, especially knowledge that was prohibited to them: good and evil (Genesis 3:5). However, the first voluntary act of knowing brought disastrous consequences. The first humans had to leave the God-planted paradise forever. Consequently, the Old Testament does not seem to encourage people’s desire for knowledge. This might have influenced Christianity – especially during the dark ages – to be strongly against the people’s desire to seek knowledge. The Church prohibited people from even reading the Bible itself and led all religious rituals in Latin. However, this is quite contrary to the teachings of Jesus in Gospels! As we read in John 8:31-32, Jesus specifically emphasizes acquiring knowledge and knowing the truth and the freedom that comes with it.
One of those truths that almost everyone seems to agree on is that life is difficult. This is not just because we all have our own problems and shortcomings, but also because the purpose of this life on earth is to form our spiritual selves. This process requires undergoing many stages of self-discoveries and enlightenments. Above all, our ultimate goal in life on earth is not to maximize our pleasures and delights in physical and worldly matters, but to find a way to transcend them in order to cultivate pleasures and delights of spiritual origin. This is neither fun nor an easy process. Therefore, knowing the true purpose of our life could feel very troublesome initially, but eventually lead us to obtain the true freedom that Jesus teaches in John, “the truth will make you free.”
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee