I would rather I didn't have to put a VS in between knowledge and experiencing God (I don't think that it is always the case that they stand against eachother) but I have observed lately that often what we think we know can hold us back from what God is wanting to do, or how He is wanting to talk in this season. We often defend our knowledge with such defensiveness that we miss out on what the bible is actually saying - LOVE. It was no different in Jesus time the leaders and those who studied the law wanted to debate, but not out of a desire to draw eachother nearer to God but out of a desire to "be right".
I have recently been spending some time asking the Holy Spirit about why is it often the western church prefers to stop at knowledge over experience of God. Especially when we see how the Spirit of God pours out in amazing measures in poor countries. Why are we not asking for the same.. and expecting it? Now I know that there will be some respond - "their teaching is not biblically sound" or "the fruit of the spirit is more important than the gifts of the Spirit). I'm not interested in justifying one church over another, I'm not interested in putting down one denomination and uplifting another... I am not making any of these statements "salvation issues" -God loves all His kids. I'm just saying.. if God is opening blind eyes and raising the dead in Africa are you asking Him to visit your church in the same way.. if others are experiencing the power of God in physical tangible ways are your humble and childlike enough to not get offended but say "Father - we want some too!!!"
This just feed on knowledge (church and biblestudy) and not experience the power of God is not the example Jesus left, neither is it what was going on in Acts church. Jesus himself said if the works of the Father don't follow me then don't believe what I say.
Are we expecting too little from God?
Are we too busy doing life... or even doing "church". Are we too busy thinking of our own prayers to listen to the Father and hear what His heartbeat is saying and pray in line with that? Do we know too much... and so we have lost our heart of curiosity to discover the heart and person of an unlimited God. DO we expect too little...? "You do not have because you do not ask God" James 4:2
We see massive miraculous out pourings in other parts of the world and yet the western church on the whole is experiencing God in such limited measures. Often "doing" church in a way that doesn't require God to "show up" for things to continue as planned- in fact the opportunity for Him to do the miraculous is often not even created.
AS I pondered these things I started to read the beatitudes in Matthew and I observed that it says "blessed are the poor.. blessed are the persecuted... for their's is the kingdom of heaven". This satisfied me a little more as I realised that this could be why the Kingdom of Heaven in poured out in greater measure on these kind of people.
But then I though of the few churches in the West that do experience revival. (i am not solely in a blanket way about for example charasmatic or pentacostal churches) but the churches where God consistently heals, where is an extreme hunger for the presence of God and an outpouring follows.
The Holy Spirit then showed me that verse "blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God"... it is the purity of heart and childlikeness (of believing for the impossible) of a hunger and crying out for the presence of God that preceeds these outpourings. There is something powerful in the heart cry "I want God more than anything else".
Anything else - includes what we don't know (letting the Holy Spirit take away our limitations), it included what we don't understand and what we think we know (and as such what will fight to defend)- Knowledge. Are we so protective of what "We Know" that we won't let God act outside of it. When the disciples experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit it was outside their grid of understanding but they wanted God more than their knowledge.
Interesting to note (I'm particulary interested to see what Jason will say on this)
that in the "Olympics" of the New Testament, Knowledge didn't even get a "medal", indeed
love, hope and faith were the medalists with love taking the gold - figuratively.
So what do you say to the western church, whose bellies are fat with Knowledge yet
who often resist the variety of ways God likes to speak.
One of the key reasons Jesus came to demonstrate the freedom that He wanted to church to be ambassadors of. The freedom that comes with the Holy Fire of the Spirit of God burning up the chaff in your life. We are meant to not only experience that freedom ourselves but lead others to it - and I'm not talking simply about the sinners prayer - but an encounter - and on going encounters with Jesus, the Holy SPirit and the Father that transform us. So many of the people I have met within the church have the Holy Spirit but restrict and limit Him because they don't allow God access, they don't pursue Him for greater things. He is willing to pour out more and more freedom, all the characteristics about yourself that you don't like ... some of which behaviour modification or medication can't heal... Jesus healed everyone that He came in contact with -and called us to do GREATER THINGS... can any of us say we have reached that level of intimacy yet? That we do greater things than Jesus? What do theologians say this I would be interested to know..? If we haven't.. how many of us are praying into that promise...?
I find it particularly interesting that when a well respected knowledgeable leader said Lord what must I do to have eternal life, Jesus gave him the example of the good samaratian as an example of how he should be. Ironically Jesus chose the marginalized, despised and not Jewish (chosen) to be uplifted as an example of love.
we are so well versed in apologetics, in our 4 point plan and even our "ministry" that we miss the wounded all around us. Its so sad to see the non-christians showing more compassion and love than the Christians, while the CHristians stand proudly on their beliefs and use them as weapons to harm, control and justify.
Check the book "The Tipping Point" where the author discusses a study of a group of young theologians who were asked to prepare a sermon on the Good Samaritan. As part of a psychological study the were told that they were they were late and to hurry to present it. The researcher prepared a hurt person on the street to see if the theologians would stop and help. only 10% of them did stop and help... some even stepped over the hurt person lying on the street to get there in time.
In my observation there is nothing wrong with knowledge, as long as your brain is switched on during the process and you are not taking the status quo "christiany christianson" answers but testing the scriptures with the most wonderful teacher - the Holy Spirit. there are so many things we say as Christians that are just learned responses - things that we have heard and say and just repeat without thinking. At church the other day one of the older men told me in response to a issue I was having to just "lean on the Lord" but when I asked him to elaborate he couldn't describe in any real or practical terms what that looked like. Could we be so wrapped up in what we know that we miss out on relationship and worshipping God in all the fullness it could be. I have noticed that sometimes (not always) those who fall in love with theology end up worshipping the Bible instead of God. The importance of love escapes them and being "right" becomes more important.
Could you be in relationship / friendship with me by following 4 steps and then reading about me? No you would have to experience time with me to know me and be known by me.
SO why then are so many theologians and Christians threatened by what they have not experienced? Is it simply because they haven't personally experienced it or is it that they are afraid of what they don't understand?