The idea for this post sprang from a conversation I had with a good friend of mine this past week. This friend of mine has recently been preparing a lesson to teach to a group of middle school aged kids at the church he’s a part of. The topic for his lesson was intimacy with God. Now, intimacy with God is a topic that can be discussed from now until the end of the world. Our chief pursuit in this life is to learn Christ and explore His riches, thus becoming more intimate with Him. We will also never completely know all the riches of Christ while on this earth. His riches are simply far too deep and wide.
The dilemma, then, was determining how you go about explaining true intimacy with God in about 45 minutes to a group of middle schoolers. The best approach that came to mind was to use parables that are culturally relevant to them, just like Jesus did in the New Testament.
The thought came to mind that your relationship with Jesus can be compared to your relationship with your Facebook friends. Everyone on Facebook has either a few, or a ton, of friends whose relationship doesn’t go any deeper than their Facebook posts and photo albums. Facebook is great and all, but you can easily lose true intimacy with someone due to the “convenience” of the social media giant.
Facebook allows you to know a lot about people without actually knowing them.
How much do we, professed Christians, know about Jesus without actually knowing Him? I want to be very careful in saying my next statement and would like to preface it by saying that the Bible is in fact infallible and inspired by the Holy Spirit. That being said, I would like to compare the Bible to Facebook for a moment.
With the Bible, we can read, study and memorize things about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Church and God’s eternal purpose. This is all very important and I am very grateful to have these writings that have been preserved for so long. However, it’s very easy to know the Bible in a strictly informational and scholarly way. Simply put: we can know the Bible and know things about Jesus without actually having them revealed by the Holy Spirit. We cannot know them fully though, apart from Christ or revelation by the Holy Spirit. Similarly, we can know things about people thanks to their Facebook page. We can know where they work, who their favorite sports team is and even whether they had a good or bad day. But do we really know that person? No. Not if Facebook is as deep as our relationship goes with them. You haven’t spent quality time with that person. You don’t know how they handle difficult situations and you don’t really know their dreams and aspirations. The things we know are great but they are taken out of context and ultimately they don’t really matter apart from the individuals themselves.
What we’re left with then, from the Bible alone and Facebook alone, is a collection of random facts and ideas that we can’t really do anything with. We’re not walking in the truths found in the Bible because they haven’t been revealed in us by the Holy Spirit through quality time with the Lord. There hasn’t been any light shed on these teachings. We take what we hear or read in our “quiet time” and then go on about our lives. Sure, we may be able to hold an excellent discussion in our small group, Bible study or church meeting, but our life doesn’t reflect these things. They are merely memorized facts and writings.
John answered, A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. – John 3:27
For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:11
Too often we know things about Jesus without actually knowing Him. We continue to eat from the wrong tree and attempt to know Christ through our own efforts and study. Studying is good and even necessary, yes. But if we don’t take what we’ve read or “learned” to God and ask for revelation and true understanding, then we’re not growing any closer to Him. I don’t care how smart and studious you are. You cannot know Christ by your own flawed effort. You will be left with information, not a relationship and understanding. This has been true in my life far too often. I’ve known what it’s like to know things about Jesus and then be left feeling far from Him, as if He’s still a stranger.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Please let me know in the comment section below.