“Don’t you understand?” (Matthew 15:16)
We live in a hurried and worried world. Does it ever feel that way to you?
Time seems in short supply. Everyone and everything feels rushed. The clock is ticking. The days are flying by. And we feel stressed. Meanwhile, we know little and understand even less.
Jesus saw the same thing in the leaders of His day, and in His disciples. Rather than ponder deeply, everyone seemed to want a sound-bite answer. Yes, even two thousand years ago.
In Matthew 15:11, Jesus presents a one-liner of teaching. The Pharisees are offended. The disciples are confused. And Peter asks, “Would you explain it to us?” (15:15) Quick, Jesus. Just tell us.
Sound-bites, quick-fixes, simple answers, easy solutions. I’m in. Please keep the tweet under 100 characters and the blog post under 400 words. No time to read more. And even less time to ponder.
And so I find myself awash in words, flooded by ideas, and unable to assimilate much at all. Know the feeling?
The outcome of living in a sound-bite world remains the same today as always: We don’t understand. Reductionism may help us communicate the basic bones of a concept, but only commitment of time and depth of thought will move us from knowledge to understanding.
It’s one thing to gather information, or have catchy conversation-starters. But it’s altogether different to develop understanding. Of course, I’m describing the familiar “inch deep and mile wide” phenomenon. It marks our culture, our churches, and our own lives all too often.
“Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked.
Mostly, “No.” How shall we turn this ship around? We can gradually begrudge the time we spend in prayer and reflection, even during this Lenten season. We simply have too much to do. Too many demands. Too much on our plates. Gotta run.
We struggle to view time spent in prayer, reading, meditation, and reflection as an investment. We fear it’s time wasted and time lost. We can’t point to the immediate benefits, so we assume there are none. Sound-bite worlds nurture this way of thinking.
But real transformation, rich faith, and authentic godliness emerge from deep places, not shallow ones.
How might we turn this around? If we want the kind of genuine understanding that would please the Father and honor Christ, what changes might we make? Well, perhaps it begins right here with a coffee (or a Coke) and ten minutes to pause, pray, and ponder.
It takes courage and discipline to delve deeply. But therein lies the difference between knowledge and understanding.
“Don’t you understand?”
Perhaps we’d like to. And it will come as we develop a new habit; as we invest in regular space with Him.