Do You Know…?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, August 22, 2015 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

My grandfather died when I was one. I never knew him personally. I heard stories about who he was as a military man, as a passionate fisherman, as a husband and father, and of course the plans he had for me, his grandson. He never got to live those dreams with me. He died doing what he loved most, fishing.

Growing up, I often wished I had known him. I had accepted the stories about him and constructed my own idea of who he was, and what it would have been like to hang out with him. Because of what was shared with me and who shared it, I believed that he was real. I accepted that he was a part of my life. And when I had challenges with my life or parents, I would imagine what he might have said to me. Rarely was it profound. Usually it was just, "Stop whining and Buck up," because that was the kind of gritty and resilient person I imagined him to be.

After my grandmother died when I was in my early 30s, we were cleaning out her attic and found my grandfather’s old military uniform. He was close to my size, so I squeezed into it. We went outside to get a picture of me in it, and when the sun and my body heat combined in the wool, a unique smell drifted up over me. It wasn't my body odor, but it definitely smelled like a person. Then it dawned on me, it was HIS smell from the last time he wore the uniform!

In that moment, I knew something tangible about my grandfather that I had never known before. All my belief that he existed was ratified by that moment, but something else occurred as well. I also realized that most of what I "knew" about him was in my imagination. Here was a smell I had never considered. What else about him didn't I know?

In Romans 10:1-4, Paul continues in writing about how he desires for the Jews to know the truth about Jesus as Messiah/Savior, and that they would believe. Take a moment and read those couple of verses.

Notice how Paul says the Israelites are zealous for God? He doesn't doubt their belief in God, or that they believed God's promises. He points out that they had a problem. They wanted to live right with God, but they didn't know how. So, they did their best to create a way to do so. They passed lots of laws and added all kinds of rules to add to God's teachings. The problem was, all their effort to do good ultimately did not make them right with God, nor did it always end up doing good.

When Jesus came on the scene to fulfill God's promise of rescue and right relationship with God, they didn't accept Him as their Messiah. They missed it. And in doing so, they continued in their flawed efforts to be right. They remained passionate about serving God, but they ignored a key piece of promise. So, they continued on a road without salvation, without right relationship with God.

When I smelled my grandfather in his old uniform, it changed my perspective and helped me see assumptions I held about him that were not accurate or even verifiable. Now, I could have been dismissive and assumed it was the smell of the attic, or something I had eaten, or some other anomaly. That would have only reinforced my imagination of what was true instead of discovering how much I didn’t know.

In the same way, the Jews in rejecting Jesus reinforced their assumptions about God, instead of getting to know God better through Jesus. When Paul says in verse 2 that they have a zeal for God that isn't based on knowledge, he uses a Greek word 'epigynosko.' That form of the word for knowledge means 'to come to know, to arrive at understanding.' In other words, to learn as a result of a willingness to consider something outside of what you already know.

So much of our journey with God, and life in general, can be stunted by our unwillingness to learn or consider new information. Sometimes we reject information because of fear, security, or a lack of imagination. Sometimes it's just too much to process. The challenge is that if it's important to us, we will take the time to consider it carefully. We will also let it re-inform what we already know when necessary. It takes courage to be aware of and examine our assumptions. It takes courage to admit we missed something. It also takes careful study to be sure what we are considering and what we have known are accurate.

The example with my grandfather was simple; I could easily admit what was imagination and what was real. I had never met him and I had no letters or videos from him, so it was almost all imagination.

When it comes to living right with God, our faith and our lives depend on what we understand and believe in regard to Jesus. We can be zealous in our religion and our belief in God, and yet we could miss everything about who God is and the life He intended for us to live. Jesus is the example, the proof, and the test when it comes to what we believe. We must be sure that we know Him, and continue to learn from and understand Him more. If we don't, then we may find ourselves in the same place as the Israelites did - passionately believing in God, but living outside of His promise and apart from relationship with Him.

What do know about Jesus? What would it take for you to know Him personally, instead of just knowing ABOUT Him?

  I want to encourage you to know Jesus through the Bible first, since He is the living embodiment of the Word of God. And if you have become a follower of Jesus, you can also trust the Holy Spirit to deepen your understanding of the Bible. The Holy Spirit can help you live daily in the ways of Jesus, and may even lead you to experience a very tangible sense of God's presence and power. The first step is to decide whether you will believe in Jesus. The next is whether that belief will be in myth or in the reality of who He is.

May God bless you as you consider your next steps.

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