I watch a lot of Star Trek. And when I say watch, I really mean listen. And when I say a lot, I really mean I want background noise. And when I say Star Trek, I really mean everything after the original 1970's series.
The good guys in Star Trek from the Federation Star Fleet adhere a guiding principle called the Prime Directive. This Prime Directive shapes and guides their decisions throughout exploration and is the basis for first contact with new civilizations. No one in Star Fleet is permitted to violate the Prime Directive lest the resulting consequences be dire.
If, like me, you believe in Jesus' promise of freedom, then you and I also share a Prime Directive: to love one another. Like Star Trek's Prime Directive, love shapes and guides us throughout our life and it is the basis for everything we do. But unlike Star Trek, this isn't just an idyllic and enlightened sci-fi fiction. Our Prime Directive of love is real and utterly life-changing. Because if I love you, I'm not going to lie to you, steal from you, cheat you, manipulate you, lust after you or covet anything that's yours. I won't cut you off in traffic, I won't give you the middle finger, I won't gossip about you, I won't seek to exploit you. Instead, I will love you. I will put your rights and freedoms ahead of mine - in fact, I would rather be wronged! I will love you so much, I will take a bullet to protect you.
That's our Prime Directive. And thank goodness I don't have to depend on me to accomplish all this - because then I'd fail for sure! Jesus is the one who creates this love in me - and the one equips me to live this extraordinary love. In fact, unlike Star Fleet's enforced Prime Directive, I don't love out of a sense of duty or obligation. If I only love you to fulfill some requirement, then I don't love you at all! No, no, no. I love you because Jesus first loved me - and I'm so thankful for this love, I can't contain it! I have been rescued by love - and I want to share it. I want to live it. I WANT to fulfill this Prime Directive.
Yet despite my enthusiasm, something always seems to get in the way of keeping my Prime Directive. And there's one very sneaky, stealthy, devious trick that trips me up every time. It slips up like an old friend and wraps around me like a comforting blanket. It's exceptionally adept at masquerading as something enlightened - when in fact, it's dangerously destructive.
It's called knowledge.
Hear me out because I'm not poo-pooing education or scientific research. I'm definitely not advocating the stymied ignorance of the Dark Ages. I have nothing against knowledge. It is an important and powerful tool driven by insatiable curiosity. In fact, I'm doomed to repeat past mistakes in an endless loop if I don't understand and retain what I've learned. So knowledge is a good thing. The problem with knowledge is me.
Think about it. There's nothing wrong with knowing the world is round, but when I meet someone who doesn't know the world is round, I might feel a tiny bit superior. Because I know something they don't. Or because I knew it first. And because I know the world is round, I might start to feel a tiny bit wiser, a tiny bit conceited about what I know. And I might start to think I'm smarter than I really am. You see, knowledge isn't the problem - it's what I do with it.
But there's a solution! If I follow the Prime Directive of love, then I won't allow myself to feel superior. Or to take pride in knowing something first. Or to become conceited. I love you and I want to share everything with you. Let me share my knowledge so we can be equals. What was given to me, I want you to have.
So love is the key to sharing knowledge. In fact, here's an easy and catchy quote: Knowledge puffs up but love builds up.
As catchy as that is, I still have to repeat these words to myself over and over and over every single day. Every. Single. Hour. In fact, I should probably just have Star Fleet implant some kind of cybernetic device to repeat this phrase every minute on an recursive loop. Because while happily going along - enthusiastically attempting to live my life with love - knowledge quietly sneaks up, puts an arm around me and gradually puffs me up.
It happens in a lot of little ways. Like when I'm following the speed limit - and silently clucking my tongue at all the speeders zipping past. Or when I hear about a shooting - and shake my head at such an evil person and wonder where his parents went wrong. Or when I count my new Twitter followers - and smile smugly at my social media prowess. Or when I curate photos for Food Fetish Friday - and secretly congratulate myself on such selflessness.
Seriously, give me that borg implant right now because even as I write this, I feel a tiny bit puffed up at having understood the connection between knowledge and love - and to be the one sharing this insight with all of you. I'm such a loving and helpful person…
You see? Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky. Watch me bloat up like a Macy's Day Parade balloon.
But love is the thumbtack for deflating all this unsightly puffing. Love reminds me that I cannot take credit for anything good in me. Not really. Because I didn't create me, I didn't connect my neural pathways, I didn't give me logic and reasoning. I didn't choose my parents. And if I learned something along the way, I didn't create the memory centers for storing that knowledge for the talents for absorbing it.
I'm just one person, with a beginning and an end, sharing the same planet, circling the same star, facing the same evil and living under the same grace - as every other human. There's only one piece of knowledge necessary for life - Christ crucified - and I can't take even the tiniest bit of credit for that!
And if I can't take credit for it, then how am I superior to anyone else? Why should I take pride in what I know? If I puff up, what's in there that's puffing me out? If there's good, I didn't create it. If there's knowledge worth sharing, it didn't originate with me. So grab the thumbtack and watch me deflate - it'd be kind of comical if you could see it. And if you didn't have to watch it happen over and over and over.
Once I'm deflated, then I can see my Prime Directive clearly. My life isn't about acquiring, hoarding and protecting knowledge. And it's not about wielding knowledge as a weapon to prove I'm right. It's about love. I have been given so much, I have been saved from so much - now I have a chance to share that incredible love! That's my Prime Directive. To comfort, encourage, care for, protect, serve and love YOU. To pick you up, carry your burdens, support you. To build YOU up. Not because I'm superior or better or enlightened - but because I am thankful to the One who loved me while I am still unloveable.
So when you feel yourself puffing up (in the next minute or two), repeat after me: Knowledge puffs up but love builds up. Repeat as needed.
Now please excuse me while I go deflate myself. The Prime Directive is waiting.
More from this series
- Confessions of a Liar
- A New Command
- Freed for Freedom
- The Ideal Job
- Faith, Hope and Handouts
- Killing Monsters
- Jesus Loves Me
- A Letter to You
- Marriage, and the ONE Important Question