Knowledge is worth as much as what you do with it. If you have profound knowledge of life-altering genetic research and do nothing with it then it is worth less than if I use my sports trivia knowledge to spark a new friendship. If you’ve graduated from seminary and are well-versed in theology it means nothing unless it is expanding your heart for Jesus and your heart for those who still need Him.
This doesn’t mean we must be using all knowledge all the time. That would be impossible. But it means that as we learn we must be looking for any and all connections between our new knowledge and something useful. It means we must have an imagination that says, “this could come in really handy some day.” If this was physical stuff we were collecting people would call us pack rats, with a shed and a garage full of tools, parts, knick knacks, and various odds and ends. But we need to be able to see a truth and think of all the ways it might be useful – useful to connect to another person, useful to teach a child, useful to reveal something of God, useful to bring a smile to someone’s face, useful to help someone in need, useful to create something beautiful, useful to protect or defend truth. And this imagination, this curiosity, is what allows us to do with our knowledge.
Think of those people who do the most formative and inspirational work – teachers, artists, entrepreneurs, missionaries, ministers, social workers, and those creative people who are always finding new and better ways to do things? What do they have in common? They take their knowledge, be it big or small, be it varied or narrow, and they make something of it. They connect with other knowledge and other people to create a better world. They don’t live in the rut of “just living life.” They ask questions until they discover how what they have, what they know can merge with what others have and know to make a new experience and life. They are curious and want to connect their little bit of knowledge with the great big world God has created. And in so doing they bring something new and better to the world.
Thomas Edison as credited as saying “To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” Well, we have our pile of junk – all this knowledge. Do we have the imagination to begin inventing? Will we ask the necessary questions and push the boundaries of our present rut to begin doing something with the knowledge we have?
This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life, that is due to be released in early 2017.