Last night I had the great opportunity to hang out with some great people I know from a local Church. They had second Thanksgiving which is exactly what it sounds like. Everyone brings thanksgiving leftovers, they heat it up, then all eat together. It was great to see 30 people all over the house eating, engaging in conversation, and enjoying a glimpse of the Kingdom together. It wasn’t long before talks about theology, prayer, Israel and the like came up and everyone participating in conversations like it all over the house.
I was sitting in the kitchen at a table and was talking to another guy about prayer and Christianity. During the conversation the idea of knowing God, without knowing God came up. The guy I was talking to said “I have so many Christian friends who know the word, they are so close! But they don’t have a living relationship with Jesus. It’s like reading someones facebook feed without every talking to them”. In that moment the thought of knowing about God without actually knowing God hit me in a completely fresh way
There’s no doubt there’s always been a tension between works and grace. But if there’s one thing that I think is clear in Scripture it’s that works are tangible evidence of the faith inside of you. James mentions this when he says “Faith without works is dead” and Jesus mentions this in Matthew where he says “Only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven”. Notice, it’s not who says a prayer, it’s not who walks down an aisle (although this can be a means to doing the will of the Father). Jesus is clear that it’s not just about saying words, it’s about living out the will of the Father.
This should shake us to our core in a very healthy way. Sometimes I think we get too hung up on the “just pray this prayer and believe” mentality. James also goes on to say that even the demons believe in God. Belief is simply not enough. I think this is important to see because although salvation comes through grace, and through trust in the price Christ payed, that belief is ultimately fleshed out through the life you live. When people claim to be followers of Jesus, but there is not evidence in their life, they either have a misunderstanding of the Gospel they’ve claimed to believe, or they truly don’t believe in it.
Think about it like this. If someone truly grasped, understood, and was wrecked by this amazing Christ that conquered death for us, offers us a new life transformed, shows us a way to live in wholeness, how would that not change your life? It’s a shame when I see the gospel cheapened, whittled down to a sentence. When you do that, not only do you misrepresent the big picture of what is actively happening now, you give the impression that the gospel is just a simple sentence to pray, not a radical life change. And let’s face it, the gospel of Christ is designed to invade every corner of our life and change it to the ways of God. This of course, is not an overnight change, and we are all works in progress (I have plenty of junk I have to go through still), but God is patient and He walks through this journey with us, lovingly pointing out where our life needs to change. This of course is only one aspect of the Gospel of Christ, and that’s ok. It’s impossible to fully explain it in a blog post, or a book, it has to be seen through life.
It is quite possible to know God, without actually knowing God. You can have all the head knowledge in the world, all the verses you were taught in AWANA memorized, never missed a Sunday morning in Church, and you can still miss Jesus. You can still miss the relationship He longs to have with you every day, all day. Jesus is a person. Not a book, not a belief, not a sunday morning service. He is living and breathing at the right hand of the Father, and He desires to talk to us, He desires to guide our life step by step, moment by moment. We must realize that it’s not just saying “Lord Lord”, it’s about pursing the heart of the Father, doing His will on earth, ushering in the Kingdom of God to a dying world.