Thursday, September 4, 2008

Knowing is not enough...

I think I've mentioned before on this blog that I've struggled to really believe God loves me. I think a lot of it stems from not having a father growing up. I never had any father-son interaction, so I never got to see first-hand what a father was supposed to be. When you combine that with growing up in a church that stressed works over relationship, you get me: a guy who has trouble in any close relationships, especially with God.

I was listening today to a podcast, and one of the speakers read a Bible verse that brings out the reason I struggle. It's 1 John 4:16:
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

My trouble? The part about relying on God's love.

I know all about God's love. I've taught it. I've preached on it. I've counseled people about it. I really do believe that God loves His children. But do I rely on it? That's a very different question.

I grew up in a church where knowledge was prized, and experience was looked down on. We were one of those Pentecostal churches, where they were acting crazy, speaking in tongues and hanging from the chandeliers. We were the "people of the book," and we valued knowing Scripture above all else.

There is nothing wrong with knowing Scripture. Every Christian needs to know and love the Bible. We should all have some understanding of basic Bible teachings. But knowledge can never take the place of relationship. At some point, we all have to go from a place of knowing about God's love to relying on His love.

How does that happen? I'm not sure I know. I don't think it's a process that lends itself to 5 steps, or 7 keys. It's probably different for everybody. I'm sure God uses the tools He usually does: prayer, Scripture, friends, circumstances. But we don't look to those tools to do anything for us.

More than anything, maybe learning to rely on God's love is a change of outlook. God wants to shower His love on us. In fact, He does shower His love on us. But we miss it, because we're looking somewhere else.

I know I've come a long way toward experiencing His love as a reality of life. But I've still got a long way to go...

Oh, the podcast I was listening to? It was Joel and Mike at Growing in Grace. If you don't already listen, try it. It is 15 minutes a week of grace-filled awesomeness!

2 comments:

Joel B. said...

You're definitely on to something here, Richard. It's one thing to "know" that God loves you, as the scriptures say, but it's another thing to rely on it. I think I deal with the same thing. I "know" God loves me, but I can't say that I live every day, or every moment, as if I'm the beloved of God, wholly and fully embraced by Him, and always trusting that His love keeps me at all times.

I like what you say about it being about a change of outlook. I really think that that's a huge part of what "repentance" or "metanoia," really is. A change of mind, a change of outlook, a change of perspective, about God, and how He relates to us.... through His love and through His grace.

Richard said...

Joel--You make some great points. I wonder how many times we miss what God is doing around us, just because we're not looking for Him?