Thursday, August 30, 2012

Living the Knowledge

Knowing Jesus simply isn't good enough! Don't get me wrong, knowing Jesus is vitally important, soul saving and life transformational. But knowing Jesus is simply the beginning point on our journey with God.

Apparently the Pharisees had a lot of knowledge of God. The result was that they were haughty, proud and arrogant. They had their laws and traditions based on centuries of Jewish cultural. They thought they knew God, honored God, and even lived for God. But Jesus says they were empty and pathetic - full of disgusting rot inside (Matthew 23:27-28). Their lives were cisterns of dead religious knowledge.

Is the American Evangelical tradition much different today? We have our highly learned PhD's, our seminary taught Pastors, our MBA laden leaders all with a lot of knowledge.  We also have our Bible touting, church attending, morning devotional reading, small group going population with all the knowledge of Jesus we need. We weekly hear expertly prepared, theologically sound, biblically inspiring, homeletically tuned messages delivered in our state of the art, multi-media, grand halls we call churches. We fill our heads with knowledge. We invest multi-billions each year in Christian media, books, studies, and resources of all kinds to get even more knowledge.

But here's the problem - it's not working! How do we know it's not working? Because in the past 20 years the number of people who attend church has diminished while the number of those who consider themselves non-religious, agnostic, or atheist has doubled. Alternatives are sought by the pluralistic masses to what they perceive is our dead religion. Divorce, family strife, and other social maladies plague the church as much as they plague our decaying culture. Inside the church pastors and leaders fall into sexual sin and financial malfeasance as much as outside the church.

"Rock star" celebrity pastors regularly misappropriate the trust they are given. The general populace of Christendom is viewed as hypocritically "UnChristian" by the growing population of "Unchurched." We value Pro-life "family values," and we should, but in the process simply want to change laws based on our knowledge of "God's will," instead of changing lives. No doubt you have heard it said we are known more for what we oppose than what we stand for. We value compassion for the least, last and lost and then live our lives to excess with big homes, fancy cars, and latest technology, all while one-third of the world lives on less than $1 a day. We justify this by our knowledge that we are, or at least have been, "blessed by God."

We possess all the knowledge of Jesus we need to make a difference in the world but for the most part we have become cisterns of dead religion, although we claim we have a "personal relationship" with Jesus. Perhaps we'll take a "short-term mission trip" so we can put a notch our religious duty belt. Maybe we'll help "feed the poor" in our community whenever our church leaders decide its time to invite them to our church again. Perhaps we'll even help spruce up the outside of our church building so as to attract the lost so they can hear a Gospel message. But might Jesus be saying, " hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean."

Yes, we have all the knowledge we need. We don't need another sermon, seminar or Bible study.  Maybe we don't even need this blog - nah. And, we really don't even "need more of Jesus."If we have been "born-again," saved by Christ, we really do have all the Jesus we need since we have the Holy Spirit. (We may need to think differently about who we do have though.) We don't need another "quiet time"or "more time in the Word," if we know Jesus. Now, don't get me wrong those things are good but if all we are after is more knowledge, and we aren't living what we already know, then our priorities are misaligned.

Dallas Willard helps us think about knowledge when he says, "knowledge in Biblical language never refers to what we today call "head knowledge," but always to experiential involvement with what is known - to actual engagement with it." Knowledge in "Biblical language" therefore calls us to living out what we know toward others, for God, and always in love (Matthew 22:37-39).

The problem with the Pharisees and much of Christendom today is that we aren't living out the first and the last part - toward others in love. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they were self-centered and self-absorbed but isn't much of our attractional model of "church" and the practice of this "relationship" we profess with Jesus likewise? If it wasn't, the difference would be noticeably different because we would be reflecting the glory of Jesus to those who need to know. That's the life Jesus calls us to - living the knowledge we do possess so the knowledge of the glory of God fills the earth.

That is my journey because I know how short of the mark I fall and the purpose of this new blog - Living Sent Today. What does it mean - Living Sent? In John 20:21 Jesus says, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” In Living Sent Today I want to try to discover what this means toward living the knowledge of the glory of God in my daily life. I can tell you one thing "living sent today" does not mean, necessarily, is that we need to leave home, by which I mean my community, to live sent.We must live sent right where we are.

I invite you to join me on this discovery. I hope to blog weekly on what I think Jesus meant when he said "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Live sent!

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