32 || Don’t Just Facebook Jesus

I’m reading through the Bible’s Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) successively for the first time in years, and something is gnawing in my spirit with such force that I cannot go another day without writing this. As I turn page after page, each chapter documents the historical moments of Jesus’ life on Earth with His spoken words in bright, glaring red. However, the quiet discontent in my heart has left a revolting thought for me to ponder, “Am I reading, studying and underlining God’s Word only to gain knowledge about Jesus, or am I getting to know Jesus?”

You see, the difference here is paradoxical because knowledge can be and often is gained in unison with the growth of relationship. However, I see Christians, myself included, consistently satisfied with head knowledge rather than knowledge of the heart. We often don’t realize how meaningless all the church attendance, Christian book reading, and—dare I say it—even Bible reading is, when the words only penetrate our heads and fail to pierce our hearts as well. Many times we don’t realize how fruitless and futile such head knowledge is until a tragedy strikes.

As I was running this morning, I began to review some of the stories I have read about the life of Jesus in the past few days. He healed the lame, had compassion on the sick, and loved the unlovable. He beckoned individuals to follow Him, and they immediately followed with confidence, leaving everything they had. Jesus tended to the heart issues and the soul pain of each individual’s circumstances.

Not surprisingly, the best human minds cannot wrap around all that Jesus was and all He accomplished during His short life on Earth. We can’t fathom the great love that radiated from His person—especially not in a culture where we are so busy judging others, living our own lives, and being indifferent to the needs around us. But we have an immense opportunity to not just know about Jesus, but to know Jesus—His whole self—intimately. We have the chance and huge privilege to be on a first name basis with the King of Kings.

Honestly, I disregard this beautiful honor of Christianity far too often. My prayer time gets pushed to the bottom of overwhelming daily to-do lists. Sometimes I hurry through my Bible reading, trying to digest the passages like fast food eaten in the car, hurrying off to the next planned activity. I get so busy in my own little world that I stop listening, or rather stop caring, about what His plans for my life may be for that day.

I was thinking this morning about my children. I’ve been blessed with four amazingly cute Mini-Mes who bring great joy to my world. I love to be with them. I love to hear their giggles. I love to watch their analytical faces as they discover how something works for the first time. I love to enjoy the electric energy they pour into every activity they perform. I love to experience both the mundane days and the adventurous days beside them.

Would I be content with reading a book about them without the experience of enjoying their presence? Absolutely not. I would be emotionally destitute if my only means of having a relationship with my kids occurred by reading a few brief pages documenting their days, what they said, or where they went.

In other words a Facebook style relationship with my children would leave me inconsolably miserable.

So, why as Christians, do we live as if such a relationship with Jesus is acceptable or beneficial? It’s not knowing about Jesus that leads to transformed lives; it’s real authentic encounters with Him that change us. It’s living daily through intimate, personal encounters with a wondrous God who knows all about you and me, but still chooses to love us infinitely, taking our messed up lives and making them something God-glorifying.

Investment in a real relationship with Jesus brings peace beyond understanding, hope in despair, and a wellspring of joy that overflows from within our very souls! It simply starts with a hungry heart, a sincere cry out to Jesus to know Him intimately, and an investment in quiet solitary time with His word and prayer.

Jesus died for you to know Him, not just to know about Him.

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