My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Hosea 4:6 (NLT)
I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. Philippians 3:10a (NLT)
I have often said that the church today is getting itself into trouble when we are more concerned with knowing about Christ than with actually knowing Him. I think I first came to that conclusion while studying Philippians and Paul’s comment quoted above (Philippians 3:10). Apparently, this concern went back a ways before Paul. Hosea warned the people about it as well.
When I was in High School (back in the days of old), I knew a set of twins. Their names were Mike and Chris, and they went to a rival High School. I only knew them because I had played against them in basketball. They were as identical as any two twins I have ever seen. It was uncanny…a little creepy even. If you didn’t know them, it was impossible to tell them apart. I knew people who knew them, and I would ask them how they tell them apart. They would try to give me hints about their hair or their mouth or a certain behavior, but none of those hints really helped. The truth was, those friends couldn’t really tell me how they tell them apart. More times than not, when asked how, those friends would just say, “I don’t know…I just can, because I know them.”
That, it seems to me, is the difference between knowing God and knowing about God. I have, upon occasion, listened to teachers teaching about God or Jesus or the Bible and heard lots of great information from them but could not help but ask myself whether they really know God. There just was no familiarity in their teaching…no real authority. And I also worry for the church today for that same reason. I worry that there are an awful lot of us in the church who are all about learning more and more information about God but who are not having any genuine encounters with Him. Frankly, when I read Hosea and many of the other prophets, it scares me to death. I worry that I could be that person…that teacher of the Bible who spends more time studying about the Bible than being with the Word become flesh.
This is where the contemplatives among us have a slight edge over those of us who prefer an intellectually stimulating environment in worship. It is the same edge that Mary had over her sister, Martha. Knowing Christ (and knowing God) is so much more than just Bible study and sermons. It is that regular crawling up into Jesus’ lap and just being with Him. It is quality time spent making eye contact with Him. It is following Him so closely, that people begin to see Him in you…not because of how much you know about Him, but because of how much you care the way He does.
My prayer today for your church has nothing to do with growth in numbers or making budgets or healthy small groups or community ministries. As we approach the coming Resurrection Day, my prayer for your church is not about mission or about ministry at all. This Easter, my prayer for myself and for God’s people around the world (and specifically for the local body of believers where you serve) is that we would know Christ, and the power of His resurrection. To know Christ more today than I did yesterday…that it a worthy goal.