Romans 10:2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.
The world is seeing plenty of zealots these days! We call them fundamentalists or extremists, and they are killing others and themselves at a great rate. Zeal by itself is not necessarily a virtue! Jesus warned us about such people, saying that those who kill those who follow Him will do so thinking they are pleasing God, (John 16:2) when their actions prove they know nothing of the Creator, but only the one who tried to usurp His throne and got thrown out of heaven. (Ezekiel 28:13-16, Revelation 12:9) We are to apply ourselves fully to serving God, but that means applying ourselves first to knowing Him. The Bible says “Let him who boasts boast of this, that he knows Me.” (1 Corinthians 1:31) We get to know God by immersing ourselves in His Word (which is the Bible and not any other book) and spending time daily in fellowship with Him, not just praying to Him but actively seeking to hear what He is saying. When a person’s zeal makes them do that with the Koran, the voice they will hear won’t be that of their Creator! However, there are Christian zealots who miss God as well, because they are married to a rigid subset of Scripture instead of grasping the whole. That includes people all over the political and theological spectrum! The first thing God asks for is a teachable heart. When our zeal makes us lose that, we’re in trouble.
I’ve run into people of all stripes who had uninformed zeal, but I’ve never had that problem. (! That is, of course, extreme irony.) I am to apply myself to knowing God in ever-deepening fellowship, but never think that I know everything. After all, even Paul knew enough to know he didn’t know enough. (Philippians 3:12-14) As Paul said, I am to be unflagging in zeal, (Romans 12:11) but I must do so on the basis of genuinely knowing God. As a pastor, I am called not only to introduce people to God, which is the work of an evangelist, but to grow and mature them in knowing Him. (Colossians 1:28) It is when people know Him indeed that they become true disciples, and that is what Jesus commanded us to make for Him. (Matthew 28:18-20) It is a real comfort that He is with us to accomplish that purpose!
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me apply myself fully both to introducing people to You and helping them know You better. May our church be a place of well-informed zeal, fully pleasing to You and drawing many into Your kingdom, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!