Knowledge

Recently my wife and I had dinner with some friends.

Among them sat someone who was older, just by a little. She had managed to retire early and had additionally gotten an early start in life. So while her resume made her seem older than she was, she was indeed quite young.

We talked about spiritual things, and I watched as she began to cry. This would have been alarming had it not been clear the Holy Spirit was working in her heart. So gently I asked what she had been feeling.

Through tears and between gulps, she confessed:

“I’m embarrassed.”

I listened, waiting for more.

“My parents stopped going to church when I was little. While I’ve always considered myself a Christian, I don’t know anything. Literally, I know nothing. I’m so lost I don’t even know where to begin.”

It was the next phrase that jolted me. But in a good way. The honesty, transparency, and frankness of it is inspiring.

“I’m ashamed I have gotten to be this old and to know as little as I do.”

Hannah and I are watching as God transforms this person’s heart. What an incredible testament to what Jesus says in Mark 2, in His healing of the paralytic who was lowered through the ceiling. Because the Pharisees looked on and murmured, Jesus addressed them.

“Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit what they were thinking in their hearts, so he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?”

When I was younger, I would have answered “Duh. Seeing a paralyzed guy get up and walk is the bigger miracle.”

Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that a changed heart, together with a changed life, is the bigger deal.

That’s not a copout. The younger me would hear someone say something like that and go: “Come on, that’s a copout. Quit covering for Jesus and His lack of modern-day miracles.”

But, while I’ve never seen someone walk who had previously been paralyzed, that change is a point-in-time miracle.

Someone abandoning their previous way of life, their previous hurts and characteristics and relationships and choosing to follow Jesus, to the extent that he raises them to a new life and causes their previous one to seem like it has died,

have you ever seen someone change like that?

It’s rare. And it’s a miracle. More miraculous because of the ongoing nature of the miracle, than any point-in-time healing.

In 2 Peter 1, Peter writes that we are to add to our goodness knowledge.

I find that many of us feel like the friend I’ve mentioned above.

Where do we start?

As a Christian, I want to apologize for something.

Those of us who have been raised in the faith make it sound so easy. Like “You should read your Bible,” or “Just have a quiet time.”

For someone new to the faith, this can be a lot like learning a new language.

When I learned Greek, my professors never handed me a Greek New Testament, written entirely in Greek with no English whatsoever, and said “Here you go. Just dive in.”

We would say that person is a terrible teacher.

Why do we do that with spiritual things?

The truth is, you do need to plug in. And you do need to start somewhere. But you also need someone to walk with you, to shepherd you, to team up with you, and to mentor you.

The Bible calls this discipleship.

And if your church doesn’t have a process for something like that, you should meet with someone and tell them how badly you need it. Chances are, they will jump at the opportunity, because this is at the root of who we are in Christ.

(If they don’t, go somewhere that does.)

But do whatever you have to do to get that ball rolling. We in the church world will continue to shorten the learning curve. Thank you for your patience and forgiveness in dealing with us, in our assumption that everyone is like us. We will keep trying to spread the message that we need to arrange processes for those who are not like us.

Keep reading. Keep exploring. Fight to get connected.

And God has given you a wonderful resource in all of this.

Jesus describes the Holy Spirit in John 16 as, among other things, being someone who will lead you into all truth.

He is described as your own personal mentor. Your coach. Your trainer.

Still, buddying up with someone is the biblical perspective, in that it equips you to better discern the Holy Spirit’s voice.

Do whatever you have to do to feed what has come alive in you.

Because, after all, you are a walking miracle. A miracle bigger than if you had suddenly gone from paralyzed to walking.

Because you have gone from death to life.

Amen.

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