Knowing About vs. Actual Knowing

As I remember it, my brother had learned all there was to know about remote control airplanes. He had read magazines, watched videos (VHS!), talked to others in the R/C world, and generally ate, drank, and slept R/C airplanes for most of one High School year.

Finally, he bought plans for a “trainer” model and began to hand-build his own airplane. And I do mean, “hand build.” This wasn’t one of those kits where all the pieces are cut out already and you put them together. No sir! He had to carve and glue every component of the air frame by hand.

Each. And. Every. Piece.

Construction involved a hair dryer, X-Acto knives, sandpaper, tiny tools – I don’t know what-all. He worked on it for months on a card table set up in the family room.  I think we had to maneuver around it to open Christmas presents. We had to watch TV around the fuselage. The smell of balsa wood, glue, and whatever that plastic stuff covering the wings was, saturated everything. A hazmat team showed up at the house with orders to clean up a meth lab. Okay, I made that up, but you get the point.

Finally, he mounted the “perfect” engine, installed the servos, and announced he was ready to fly. The family gathered on the front drive to watch it take off. Which it did – straight up; at which point it stalled and came straight back down, full throttle, nose first into the field across from the house.

There were no survivors.

You can learn all there is to know about R/C planes, but not know how to fly one

Our relationship with God can be like that. We can study his book, listen to what others say about Him, never miss a Sunday, listen to podcasts and worship music in the car, check all the religious boxes. We can even develop some strong convictions about His Word – but when it comes to applying what we’re so sure of, we crash. Why?

We know all about God, but don’t know God.

You know the type. It’s someone that can score 100’s on every Bible quiz and have their systematic theology neatly tied up but score zeros in obedience. They would fight you to the death over some finer point of doctrine while living out a baby-like faith. They substitute knowledge of for relationship with.

In the New Testament faith in Christ is framed as a relationship. The Lord intends for us to know him, not just about him. For instance, in many places, God calls himself our Father, and we are his children. Also, Romans tells us that His Spirit lives in the genuine believer (8:9). We’re promised that when we pray, he hears and will answer. He is the vine; we are the branches (John 15). These are all relational in nature, and when, through Jesus, we know God, it changes us.

How do we come to know him? We become obedient to his ways. We experience him through obedience. Jesus said “Whoever has my commands, and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14;21. Italics mine).

We can memorize the whole Bible, but if we don’t align our lives with what it teaches, we don’t know God like we think and he’ll always seem distant.

If this describes you, it’s overwhelming to think of all the habits, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that you need to bring under his lordship. Don’t try to change it all at once and all by yourself. Present just one thing to the Lord you are convicted needs to change, confess it as sin if needed, repent, and ask him to transform you. You won’t “fly” immediately, and you’ll likely crash a few times. But eventually, your heart will be transformed.

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