The Fraudulent Ornithologist

I used to enjoy taking weekend walks with people so I could show off my prowess in identifying the birds we saw.  It was great for my ego when people would say, “Wow, you sure do know a lot about birds.”  Actually they could not have been more wrong.  While I did know the bird’s names, I knew nothing about the birds.  All I knew is what we call them in America and if I had been in another country often those birds are called something else.  I was a fraud.  We can know the names of lots of people and not know anything about the people themselves. A name is merely a random identifier attached to someone by their parents before their parents really knew them.

The same is also true about some people’s knowledge of Scripture.  They can quote all kinds of verses and be very impressive.  But once you really get to know them you realize they don’t know much about the author of Scripture.  God is merely a name of a being who is to them a stranger.  Jesus talked about these people in Matthew 7.  “By their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”   They know the name but they don’t know the attitude, the love, the passion to be like the one they speak of so freely.  They are as fraudulent a Christian as I was an ornithologist.

James, Jesus’ brother, wrote, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

Written by Roger Bothwell on November 26, 2012