18-Inches

Have you noticed how much of our teaching in the church centers on facts? It’s our default setting. Inevitably, our Bible classes will turn into a history lesson or the recitation of facts. Preachers give their charts and their timelines. We place a high premium on knowledge. We know the steps to salvation. We are ready to recite them at the drop of a hat. We know all the scriptures that prove that baptism is necessary for salvation. We know the Old Testament stories about Moses, Noah, and Jonah. We know all these things just like we know how to change a tire, or the recipe to our favorite dish. But none of this means anything if it stays locked up in our brains. At some point, it has to reside in our hearts. Because, unless and until it does, there is no application.

There is a vast difference between knowing and experiencing. I can know that sugar is sweet. I can hear it from other people. I can read books about sugar being sweet. But if I haven’t actually tasted sugar, what do I really know? I may know in my head that sugar is sweet, but I’ve never experienced it in my heart.

Psalm 34:8 reads: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”

I can know some facts about God. I can read countless books about the attributes of God. I can go to church and hear the preacher talk about God. I can see scripture quoted on t-shirts and coffee mugs. I can read the Bible and gain a “head knowledge” about God. But it’s not the same thing as experiencing God. It’s not until I actually “taste and see that the Lord is good,” that I gain “heart knowledge.” Until I experience answered prayer, until I experience His grace and love, until I experience the strengthening that comes from Him, I don’t truly know God.

Proximity is the difference between knowledge and experience. Imagine watching an F5 tornado on television as it destroys everything in its path. It’s easy to admire such a phenomenon of nature. You have no anxiety as you sit and watch from the comfort of your couch. But you would feel differently if you were standing in the tornado’s path. A freight train is impressive from three blocks away, but it’s rather frightening if you’re standing on the tracks as it barrels toward you. We can admire God through facts; however, it’s something entirely different to gaze upon His creation and be so moved by the beauty and splendor of it that you fall on your knees in praise. To feel so close to God that you’re moved to tears or compelled to sing, is far greater than mere head knowledge. Please understand, I am not implying that knowledge is unimportant. It is vital. It’s just not the goal. I’m also not suggesting that feelings should trump knowledge, or that feelings should be our guide. I’m simply saying that head and heart should go hand in hand.

I heard someone say one time that heaven is 18-inches away; that is the distance between your head and your heart. The goal is not to know some interesting facts about God. The goal is not to know the scriptures in Hebrew and Greek. The goal is not information. The goal is transformation. The goal is to be like Jesus. If we miss the point, then we’re left with some valuable knowledge that never gets applied. And what value is knowledge if it never translates into action? God doesn’t want us to know about Him. He wants us to know Him, and to be shaped by Him. That doesn’t happen until knowledge travels the 18-inches from our head to our heart.

May the Lord bless you and keep you!

 

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