Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Corinthians 13: A Gentle Admonition

I'm sitting here at the National Library of South Africa, looking at the rows of bookshelves and all the people doing research or studying.

Libraries are like Disneyland to me. I love books because I love learning.  I love to read the books, of course, but I also love the way they feel and smell.  I love the weight of a heavy book, the smoothness of a leather-bound book, and the history of a book that has hand-written notes in the margins.  I love it when the pages of a new book stick together. I love the soft, worn edges of old books. I love falling asleep with a book on my chest and waking up to find it's still there, exactly as I left it. When I borrow a book, I wash my hands before I pick it up - every single time - to somehow honour the solemnity of being entrusted with such a precious thing.

As I look around this library, with all the knowledge I could possibly want at my fingertips, I am haunted by the words of I Corinthians 13:2 - "If I... can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, but do have not love, I am nothing."

I can hear God's gentle voice - "What good is all that learning if you don't love people, Anna? What good is it to know so much? Do you amass knowledge for knowledge's sake, or do you amass knowledge to feed your passions and fulfill your potential and calling? That potential and calling ultimately need to make a difference in the world, and the only way to make a difference in the world is to make a difference in people's lives.  Love them, Anna."

It was not an admonition against learning and knowledge; it was an admonition against valuing knowledge above people.