I must have been about eight when my mom gave me the most valued treasure of my elementary years. I had spent my first few years of elementary school with the old standby of only eight colors: black, white, red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple; hardly the spectrum of the rainbow, but useful nonetheless.
Then for whatever reason, I received the mother lode of all crayon collections: The Crayola brand 64 color set. “Wow!” I thought “There is no limit to what I can create now!”
I think I spent the entire first morning just making marks on a sheet of white paper to sample the different colors: Silver here, Burnt Sienna there, a dash of Aquamarine thrown in for good measure. As soon as I used a crayon to make a mark, I would immediately use the convenient little plastic crayon sharpener installed on the front of the box to make sure that all of the tools of my artistic desires were sharpened enough to be used as darts.
Ahh..this was the life! All of these colors at my disposal!!! Just think about the possibilities!
But then the stress started rising…what if I use one color too much?! Then I might have only 63! Or what if I broke one of the crayons then the uniform height of the little crayon soldiers in the box would be forever marred! That would be very bad.
And so, I set myself to memorizing the colors, making sure that they remained sharp and the sharpener was always emptied. I set the 64 color treasure box on a shelf so that I could admire its majesty, and continued to use standard box of eight colors for my art.
Sound familiar? It should, because it is too often how we approach knowing God.
As we continue in attempting to exercise everyday faith, and seek to live all for His glory, a critical component is to differentiate knowing about God and knowing God.
I am often amazed by the intellectual prowess of some of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I will be discussing something that is happening in my life and without hesitation they will be able to recite a passage from the Bible that illustrates God’s leading in that area. Half the time I can’t remember my own birth date, but they can remember and recite a paragraph or six from a fifteen hundred page book.
The difficulty many seem to have is translating that passage to their life. I have heard things like “We need to surrender our life to Christ”, “We need to test the spirits” or my favorite: “We need to love one another.” Then, when I ask them, “What does that look like?” I get another verse.
To extend the crayon analogy, it’s similar to knowing the name and location of every crayon in the treasure box, but never creating art by putting the colors to paper. So what is the world seeing, a blank piece of paper. Or worse yet, a piece of paper with nothing but disorganized marks of various colors but no picture.
What are we presenting to the world? …a beautifully vivid illustration of Christ’s love and sovereignty in our lives?...or a page of multicolored hashmarks glorifying our memorization ability?
While honest introspection is a necessary component of my daily walk, reflecting Christ to the lost is my mandate if I am to live all for His glory. In order to best evaluate whether I am progressing in actually knowing God, as averse to having great knowledge about God, I use the following measures: Transformation and View.
I am always excited when I learn something new about God. It is part of the process of discipleship to seek out new revelations about Him; but even as I refer to discipleship and growing in Spiritual maturity as a “process”, it is more accurately described as a “transformation”.
Bible knowledge and the ability to recite verses from memory are excellent examples of our commitment to learn about, and know about, God. But it does nothing to illustrate our distinctiveness. Sure, it may help if you are on the game show “Jeopardy!” and the topic of “Biblical Characters” or “Religious Literature” come up, but our distinctiveness as Spiritual maturing disciples is not manifest in our ability to translate Greek and Hebrew or recite Psalm 119 from memory.
Our goal in living all for His glory is not to master ancient languages or to display great feats of mental acrobatics; our ultimate goal is to reflect Christ by putting that spectrum of colors to work in our lives.
So, how do we go about knowing God? We begin with “knowing Him” as the central desire of our heart. God is seeking authenticity in our walk, not intellectualism.
I once heard that Satan knows and can recite all scripture, chapter and verse. I can guarantee that he knows more about God than even the most intellectual theologian that has ever existed. However, he would be indistinguishable in a crowded room. If you saw him in a lineup, you would not be able to pick him. It’s scary to consider that he could be sitting next to you at the ballgame, and you would never know the difference.
Disciples that are devoted to knowing God are distinctive. And that distinctiveness is a direct result of the personal transformation. A couple of times I have heard Christians hedging around the idea of distinctiveness, with the main objection being that observers may not be able to see the internal changes of the heart and the mind; while it may be true that internal transformation may not be visible, our outward actions will always, always, reflect the difference that knowing God manifests in our lives.
While I have no question that there are many general revelations about God that can be discovered in creation, authentically knowing God requires daily time in His Word. At first glance this may appear to be self evident, but I am not referring to simply reading the Bible or a daily devotional.
When I speak to being “in” the Word, I am not referencing the process of finding a place in scripture and scanning the pages looking to find another color to “hash mark” our page. In exercising everyday faith, we are diving into the Word, seeking wisdom and realizing transformation.
That is the key, if the time we are spending in God’s Word is not transforming our lives by application into a more distinctive, clear reflection of Christ, then we need to honestly evaluate if we are knowing God or seeking to know more about God. In simpler terms, are we engaged in an intellectual pursuit or in authentic discipleship?
Let me be clear before I dig too deep a hole. The Bible is required reading, it is the very Word of God, infallible and inerrant. Without a thorough, regular reading of the Bible, you are getting less than half the story. What most impresses me about the Bible is its connectedness.
I have used the analogy of a huge, ornate tapestry. On any given part of the tapestry you will observe an extremely detailed, self-contained narrative with a uniquely beautiful message; but when you take the time to look at the tapestry from end-to-end, then you discover that each of these narratives comprises just a chapter in the greatest masterpiece that can be produced.
With all that said my point is that the Bible is more than a collection of divine literature conveniently bound together for our intellectual edification; when read with a heart for knowing God, every single time you dive into a passage or study the history, the result should be transformative as well as informative.
You should not just be a smarter person after your devotional time..you should be a different person.
As we endeavor to exercise everyday faith all for His glory, a natural transition will occur. We will begin to develop an “Eternal” view. An Eternal view develops as we spend time knowing God and it adds to the distinctiveness of the Spiritually maturing disciple.
We are saturated daily with the temporal view of life; a materialistic, humanistic view of our purpose. The end goal of most on earth revolves around Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Food, Water, Shelter, Safety, Stability and all that is static and perishable. If you question the validity of my statement consider some of the questions that motivate people:
How much money do I need when I retire? How long will it take until I receive my next promotion? If only I had…? If only I could…? If only I bought…?
It is an epidemic: “The “I” Disease”.
The illustration of the crayons comes back to mind. I refer to it as the “scarcity” syndrome.
If I take a temporal view of the crayons, then I never use them because I am compelled to hoard them and keep them in pristine condition. I do not apply them to paper as God intended for fear of the finite (scarce) portion I’ve been given.
When applying that to knowing God’s will through His Word, it manifests itself as inaction. I only have so much time and so much means with which to obey God whether that be in outreach, tithing, or even loving. If I step outside my comfort zone there may be waste and then I wouldn’t have been a good steward of my finite allotment.
So, we look on our calendar for places to fit God’s Will, we comb our bank account for pennies that we can spare for God’s Kingdom, we don’t just test spirits…we force them to take multiple SAT’s which we administer and grade at our convenience; all in the name of stewardship…temporal stewardship, temporal view.
What happens as we begin knowing God through His Word? We develop an eternal view and a better understanding of abundance. We look to God’s calendar for opportunities to fit God’s will, we advance God’s Kingdom and discover the imperishable riches of His glory, we follow the Spirit of God that indwells us wherever He may lead, all in the name of stewardship…eternal stewardship, eternal view.
If I take an eternal view of the crayons, then I relish every opportunity to use them because I know that when I finish whatever God inspires me to do, there will be more than I started with. I apply those crayons to paper as often as God places new sheets before me, because I have unlimited time to glorify Him, and I want to use it all to that purpose.
Because every page is a new opportunity to exercise everyday faith all for His glory.
And that my dear brothers and sister in Christ is the “K” in our shared walk. You may note that I did not use a single verse or passage in this entry, and it was a planned omission based on the following lone suggestion for knowing God more:
Read the Bible for 15 minutes everyday, and do so with the desire of knowing God and with the realization of transformation and greater distinctiveness.
My hope is that you are game for a thirty day trial run at everyday faith by spending at least fifteen minutes every day in each of the four components of our WALK:
Advancing God’s Kingdom
My next step will be to write or seek thirty devotionals which emphasize Spiritual growth through highly transformative passages. Each devotional will be designed to last fifteen minutes and focus on knowing God, because although we can do it alone, its so much more encouraging and God glorifying when we do so as brother and sisters in Christ.