This weekend proved to me again that we must scrutinize our walk with Christ.
Note that phrase that we use so effortlessly: walk with Christ.
I’ve been away from the blogosphere for the last two weeks, so I’ve missed the latest hubbub on the Web. Without a doubt, some feelings have been hurt, someone called someone else a heretic, fighting words duked it out with other fighting words, and a brand new systematic theology was hatched.
That’s the problem with where our faith has taken us. In the midst of all the discussions, I wonder if we still remember that it’s not about systematic theologies, or clever apologetics, or myriad other things. It’s about Jesus Christ.
Have we lost the person of Jesus? Do we treat Him like a person or do we treat him like an aesthetic, a systematic theology, a mascot, or a code of living?
This verse continues to startle me:
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
—John 17:3 ESV
We tend to think of eternal life as living on in heaven after we die. But Christ Himself says that eternal life is knowing Him.
The last part of that verse should intrigue us all. The whom you have sent gives us the why of Jesus’ coming in the flesh. We know that when He’s asked about showing the disciples the Father, Jesus tells them that seeing His own person is enough. See Jesus = See the Father.
The expectation that we are called to know Christ sets a high standard, one that calls for intimacy like that found in Song of Solomon. The disciples knew Jesus before the coming of the Holy Spirit, but afterwards they knew Him even more intimately. And so it is with us. The expectation that we have that deep intimacy can’t be avoided.
This brings up a sticky subject: Do we truly know Christ or merely know about Him? I suspect that many Christians equate the two, but I can’t agree with them. Something altogether different occurs in the life of some Christians versus others and that key distinction comes down to knowing.
That knowing goes even beyond faith. I know some Christians who have tons of faith, but when pressed their explanation of how they know Christ is lacking. I read a book like A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy (a book everyone must read) and I see in those pages a tangible knowing that transcends the experience of most Christians I know, myself included.
To use the lover illustrations from Song of Solomon, it is quite one thing to receive a letter from the Beloved (think the Bible here) or to glimpse Him from afar (when we minister in His name or when we reach out to Him briefly in worship), but that face-to-face meeting is wholly different. Some would be satisfied with that, but the bedchamber calls and there we are to experience another level of intimacy, the pinnacle of knowing.
All too often we get sidetracked by arguments, performing, and rules so that we never achieve that face-to-face meeting so essential to knowing, much less ever make it to the bedchamber. Our knowledge is like that of fans of an unapproachable celebrity; we collect all the trinkets, chair the meetings, write letters, and on and one, but we don’t know that celebrity at all. That celebrity probably doesn’t know us, either.
But if eternal life is knowing Jesus Christ, we must have a face set toward the bedchamber or else we’ll miss it.
How many of us do? How many of us truly know the Person of Jesus Christ? Not about Him, but Him as a real Person?
Our answer makes all the difference.