Knowledge Passes Away

Thought of the day:

We devote a lot of our time and energy toward avoiding decay. I don’t just mean thing like putting food in the fridge and keeping our buildings in good repair. I mean all the little practical nuggets of wisdom we accumulate in life like, “Break in a new paperback book before reading it,” or “Never let condensation get on your wood table,” or “Never use your fabric scissors to cut plastic,” or “Cover your mouth when you cough,” or “Cover your food in the microwave,” or “Turn your clothes inside out before you put them in the wash.”

Life hacks and practical “common sense” skills like these are all for the purpose of keeping things working when they would otherwise decay more quickly. That’s the way our existence goes here after the Fall into sin and after the curse. There is a “right way” and a “wrong way” to do things because everything tends toward entropy, and we want to find a way of walking through life with as little entropy as possible.

And these are good and useful skills. We help each other through this life by applying these skills.

But what good are these skills going to be after this life? In the resurrection, there will be no more death or decay. At the very least, not decay like we think of it here — we don’t know exactly what it will be like. But the curse will be undone, and I’m pretty sure that means that my current knowledge about how to cover my mouth when I cough will be completely useless. (at least as far as avoiding contagiousness goes)

You’ve probably heard the fanciful story about a man who was allowed to take his gold into heaven, after which he realized that gold was regarded as mere paving material there and that his efforts were useless. But your knowledge and skills for navigating this life? Yes, I argue much if not most of that will be useless too.

What will we actually still use or need in the resurrection?

Adam and Eve were given the Garden (and the Earth) to tend, as well as to be fruitful. Christ tells parables of us as servants who might be given management of cities. Paul writes that we will judge angels. But above all the Scriptures emphasize the point that in this life we are to grow in love – this is the Law and Prophets. (And really that’s what management is for when done properly: for love and serving, and sometimes also for giving coordination and direction to the creative energies of those one tends.)

“Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

So remember this the next time you get frustrated or angry or even just disappointed because someone in your life didn’t do something “the right way,” and the resulting entropy was higher than you would have liked. These “life skills” you take pride in are only useful for the short-term. Yet that person you know who might seem helpless against the complicated pitfalls of “common sense” problems in this life but who excels in love and humility, you can expect that person to receive the greater honor and purpose in eternity.

If you consider yourself good at practical things here, gifted in knowledge, wisdom, teaching, insight, or understanding, then you can consider your role in this life to be that of using those gifts to help that other person who struggles without them until they come into their inheritance, where those skills might not be so relevant.

“Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16-17)

What else would you plan to use your gifts for?

Love your neighbor. Feed the hungry. Put child gates by your stair wells. And especially teach and lead others through the doors of eternal life in Christ.