As believers in America we typically 'know' the ropes -- the Christianity 101 of what it means to be saved, a witness of the Gospel, and the major stories and characters of the scriptures. We have a measure of devotion, and hearts reasonably prepared to minister as we are called. We have (praise God) the freedom in the U.S. to go as far up the Mountain of God as we dare to journey.
But we don't know what we know. Not intimately; not as thoroughly as many who have received the torch Christ first passed to His disciples.
So What? Well, it means that somewhere along the line, a hand-off was fumbled. The chain, from Christ to disciples, disciples to early Church fathers, and from them to the not-so-early Church fathers, was an invaluable asset to Christendom. It is one thing to study the pristine life of Christ in the scriptures; it is another to apply it as a fallible (albeit Spirit-filled) believer of the current age. Absent a chain of overcomers, we have little in the way of a working knowledge of what "right looks like" outside of the pastoral staff. Early America was replete with Godly men and women, and they 'knew what they knew' because there was an ocean of models to look to. I will submit that in the main (we are blessed with a depth of righteousness at Cornerstone), that ocean looks a lot more like a kiddie pool in 2011.
Sow What? It means we have to know better, first hand, from the Word of God, what He is really trying to tell us. We can't be satisfied by a shallow knowledge that can be easily misled and uprooted. For example:
Q: According to the Bible, is it better to give or to receive?
A: It is better to give than to receive.
A: Uh, because it's in the Bible - and that settles it.
Q: Okay, but how does that work - what's going on spiritually?
A: God loves a cheerful giver.
Q: But what's the value of giving vs. receiving? Isn't salvation a gift received from God? ..
...and so it goes. Absent a renewing of our minds by washing in the Word, we are lacking in the knowledge to give "every man an answer..", and will be frankly unclear of critical principles ourselves. Even in this simple exchange, we can offer the seeking heart much more..
Love for God and love for our fellow man are inseparably one. So giving, rooted in love, fosters a unity in Christ, the center of all real work (Matthew 6). Those who serve and those served draw spiritual sustenance at the same time. This is our most powerful evangelism, as in doing the works Christ has directed us to do, in the way we have been directed to do them – filled with His love and cheer (joy) in working alongside Him; WE DRAW GOD NEAR to the object of HIS AGAPE (Charity). Our faith then becomes something others can experience; they can taste and see that the Lord is good when our faith conquers our hearts and springs forth in true works of cheerful service and charity. We are blessed powerfully in obedience and in proximity to Love Himself. The lesson from Jesus Christ in giving may be witnessed in the act of the divine incarnation. Divine love revealed itself in accepting an earthly form. At that moment of disclosure, our Lord worked out His deepest reverence and understanding of you and me.
This, while an imperfect answer to be sure, is an understanding we can wield in the spiritual warfare that is daily life.
Christianity - a love relationship with the Creator - is different from the inside than it appears to the world. We need to be equipped to explain to others the Kingdom we are inviting them to enter forever.
Our Berean efforts this week to better understand the message Knowing God's Word yielded the following bottom line understandings:
BLUF # 4 – Knowing God’s Word