Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Infinity and Beyond!

And we have known and believed the love God hath to us. 1 John 4:16

To know and to believe something to be true or real is not the same thing. The Apostle John, writing about the love of God, qualified it as something he both knew and believed.

“Jesus loves me this I know.” Why? How? “For the Bible tells me so.”

This simple song is a profound statement of truth. Throughout the Bible God’s own words and demonstrations of His love are documented as reminders of how much He cares. We’ve heard and read “God loves you” over and over, but do we really believe it?

To know and to experience are two different actions. Author E. W. Kenyon wrote about “sense knowledge evidence” which is often mistaken for faith. We “believe” someone loves us because we see their actions, hear their words and feel their affectionate touch. When what we sense no longer lines up with our definition of love, the validity of the relationship comes into doubt. Our judgment is based solely on experiences in the natural, sensual realm. Disappointment and discouragement can result from using sense knowledge evidence to confirm God’s love for us.

E. W. Kenyon also warned about the danger of substituting “mental assent” for real belief. Mentally assenting to something is agreeing with it but not necessarily believing it to be true. We read a passage from the Bible and, because it is written there, we agree in principle that it’s true. Unless we put what we’ve read into practice, we really don’t believe it. Faith requires action, not just agreement. It’s easy to amass a storehouse of head knowledge without any practical application. Ultimately sense knowledge evidence and mental assent will fail us when difficulties arise.

A deep, personal relationship with God is built on intimacy not information. Interactions with God, like those with people, open the door for disappointments. God never fails nor does He make mistakes. He steadfastly refuses to confine Himself in boxes based upon our comfortable proportions. He systematically disrupts any attempts to reduce Him to a formula guaranteeing success. His idea of neat and tidy can be chaotic and messy to us; He colors outside the lines. He won’t be relegated to the sidelines saddled with the responsibility of smoothing out the rough spots of life and keeping us appeased. His plans and designs for our life outstrip our wildest imaginations. For these to succeed, we need to truly believe He loves us, not just know about it in theory.

Jesus and John were very close friends. The bulk of John’s life as a Christian, however, was spent without the physical contact with the Lord he’d once experienced. Like the majority of the readers of his letter, John had to know and believe something He couldn’t see. He’d have never endured the hardships and persecutions he suffered if God’s love was only a cute idea or some pipe dream.

Experiencing God's love will stabilize our lives in ways that sense knowledge evidence and mental assent never will. The good news, God desires a deep, intimate, personal relationship with each and every one of us. His love provides the fuel to take us past the confines of our small thinking and into His wildest dreams…“Infinity and Beyond!”

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasamarshall/4053625518/">NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

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