the smart young m.div. candidate

albert einstein, smart enough to enter into eternal life

image courtesy of, and designed at, signgenerator


A well-versed Christian came up to Jesus and asked, “Savior, what intelligent thing do I need to know to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is intelligent?” Jesus replied.  “There is only one who is intelligent.  If you want to enter life, obey his commandments.”

“Which ones?” inquired the excellent and highly revered Sunday School teacher.

Jesus replied, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

“I have memorized all these commandments,” the seminarian said, “and I’ve even kept a lot of them.  I also understand completely how the Trinity functions, have interpreted in its fullness the book of Revelation, made ‘A’s in both Greek and Hebrew, know why the justification theory is lacking, can name three reasons why ever other denomination is wrong, and have correctly identified the unforgivable sin.  What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go rid your brain of all those answers, and you will have made room in there to grasp the idea of obedience to my words.  Then come, follow me.”

When the brilliant young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great knowledge and really believed that’s what Christianity was all about — despite the fact that Jesus had just told him otherwise.

— taken from Matthew 19 (kind of)


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28 Comments

Filed under modern-day retelling, woe to us

28 responses to “the smart young m.div. candidate

  1. Awesome illustration, Brett.

    I once knew a singer who was technically excellent – hit every note flawlessly, sang with precision, yet she was unbearable to listen to because she had no emotional connection to the music, no soul.

    At the same time I met another singer who was pretty rough around the edges, didn’t necessarily hit every note perfectly, but sang with unbridled passion and a love for what she was doing. I loved to listen to her sing, because she GOT it.

    It has to be in your heart, not just your head.

    • thanks, larry. glad you’ve stopped by again. i once heard it said the distance from one’s heart to head is the longest 18 inches in the world.

      that being said, i really thought you were going to break into talk about how paula and randy just aren’t being honest enough, or have become deaf — and how most of the contestants shouldn’t waste their time following a dream that will never come true.

      • Nope, but I am secretly hoping that Shania Twain becomes a judge next year. That’ll bring us Canadians one step closer to taking over the world.

        • you know, larry, it wasn’t long ago that i thought canadians were taking over the world. i mean you guys had:

          john candy, william shatner, jim carrey, bryan adams, michael j fox, pamela anderson, celine dion, avril lavigne, and mike myers.

          but most of them are fading (or already have) these days. now you’ve only got justin bieber and kiefer sutherland. that’s sad, larry. sad.

  2. If I haven’t said it lately I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!

  3. The close of the Sermon on the Mount sums it up pretty well:
    “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Mt. 7:24-27).

  4. Ahhh… beautiful. Am passing this along to my friends.

  5. JMF

    Is this your interpretation from one of your 3C studies?

    Today is the first day for me to a do 3C study…I am really looking forward to it. Today was a good day for this posting; I’ve lately felt that my bible study of late has been more of knowledge accumulation/debate prep than actual preparation for obedience.

    Granted, shedding legalism has allowed me to start seeing the Bible in hyper-color…but now I’ve become legalistic about learning healthy biblical teaching, if that makes sense. So, I’m prayerfully working to move in the direction of obedience study and application.

    • fife, no, this is not the 2nd column of a 3-column study. though doing 2nd columns did lead me to start writing things like this. i think it seems more to me like a 2nd and 3rd column put together and aimed at a larger culture, rather than some of my own personal takeaways from the text.

      the best place (on my site) to see actual 2nd columns is in the series on giving. it starts here.

      and my “model” 3-column is here.

      and the preacher at my sending congregation has been doing some 3-columns on his blog lately. his site is here.

    • i’m excited about your first 3-column study. i think you’re going to like it. my advice, though: don’t try to do one every day (which may very well not have been your goal). i’ve found that when i do more than two or three 3-columns a week, i have too many “i will” statements of obedience to be able to focus well on them. so i usually read a chapter every day or something like that, and then when i get to a text that i feel like might have something in there for me, i set it aside and do it as a 3-column the next day.

      or i do my 3-columns on a particular topic (like that giving study). because then i find that the “i will” statements from each study tend to fit well with one another.

      let me know how it goes. what is your first passage, and how did you decide on it?

  6. Ike

    I don’t think that Matt 19 suggests: “If you want to be perfect, go rid your brain of all those answers”. Biblical doctrine is very important. The early church devoted themselves to the apostles doctrine and we should too. That means having both head knowledge & obedience.

    • i agree, ike. i don’t think matthew 19 states that knowledge is evil any more than it states wealth is evil. i read Jesus as suggesting to this one young man that money and possessions are standing in the way of him being obedient to God and following Christ.

      and i think today there are many in our world who are allowing knowledge to prevent them from being obedient to God and following Christ. for many, Christianity has become about knowing the right things. and i believe this passage suggests that Jesus’ personal prescription for these individuals would be to cut it out with the knowledge stuff until they learn to be obedient and follow the desires of God’s heart.

      i do realize that some knowledge is necessary for obedience and knowing Christ. but i also realize that the majority of us who go by the name “christian” have more than enough knowledge already. we know incredibly too much to look so little like Christ.

  7. Nancy

    Thank you. That is quite a refreshing take on that passage and one that is all too true in today’s world.

  8. Pingback: willard’s prayer « aliens and strangers

  9. Pingback: adam and eve’s exchange | aliens and strangers

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