As I’m reading through the gospels successively for the first time in years, something is gnawing in my spirt with such abrasive force that I cannot go another day without writing this. As I turn page after page, each chapter documents the historical moments of Jesus life on earth, His spoken words a bright glaring red. But the quiet discontent in my heart has left a revolting thought for me to ponder. Am I reading, studying, underlining to gain knowledge about Jesus, or to get to know Jesus?
You see, the difference here is paradoxical, because knowledge can be and often is gained in unison with the growth of relationship. However, I see Christians, myself included, repeatedly content with head knowledge rather then knowledge of the heart. We often don’t realize how meaningless all of the church attendance, Christian book reading, and dare I say– even Bible reading is, when the penetration of the words only sink into our heads and fail to successively pierce our hearts. Many times we don’t realize how fruitless and futile such knowledge is until tragedy strikes.
As I was running this morning, I began to review some of the stories I have read about the life of Jesus in the past few days. He healed the lame. Had compassion on the sick. Loved the unlovable. Tended to the heart issues and soul pain of peoples individual circumstances. Beckoned “follow me” to individuals who proceeded to follow with confidence and leave everything they had immediately.
Not surprisingly, the best human minds cannot wrap around all that Jesus was and all He accomplished during His short life on earth. We can’t fathom the unthinkable love that radiated from His character— especially not in a culture where we are so busy judging, living our own lives, and being indifferent to the needs around us. But, we have the unthinkable opportunity to not just know about Jesus, but to know Him, His Character intimately. To be on a first name basis with the King of Kings.
Honestly, I disregard this beautiful privilege of Christianity far too often. My prayer time gets pushed at the bottom of overwhelming daily “to-do” lists. Sometimes, I hurry through my Bible reading, trying to digest the passages like fast food eaten in the car on my way hurrying to the next planned activity. I get so busy in my own little world, that I stop listening, or rather stop caring, about what His plans may be for that day for my life.
I was thinking this morning about my children. I’ve been blessed with four amazingly cute “mini-me’s” who bring great joy to my world. I love to be with them. I love to hear their giggles. Love to watch their analytical faces as they discover how something works for the first time. Love to enjoy the electric energy they pour into every activity they perform. I love to experience both the mundane days and the adventurous days beside them. Would I be content with reading a book about them without the experience of enjoying their presence? Absolutely not. I would be devastatingly heartbroken if my only means of getting to know my kids relationally was reading a few brief pages documenting their days, what they said, or where they went. In other words a Facebook style relationship with my children would leave me inconsolably miserable.
So, why as Christians, do we live as if such a relationship with Jesus is acceptable or beneficial? It’s not knowing about Jesus that leads to transformed lives; it’s real authentic encounters with Him that does. It’s daily, living, intimate, personal encounters with a wondrous God who knows all about you and me, and yet chooses to still love us abundantly that takes our messed up lives and makes them something God glorifying.
Investment in a real relationship with Jesus brings peace beyond understanding, hope in despair, and a wellspring of joy that overflows from within our very souls! It simply starts with a hungry heart, a sincere cry out to Jesus to know Him intimately, and an investment in quiet, solitary time with His word and prayer. Jesus died for you to know Him, not just to know about Him.