Up until the last decade or so, I had no interest in anything that could be found in books. My mind was busy pursuing life as an application, unthought out, while emotions and experience ruled the day. I enjoyed living in the moment and going after whatever fed my fancy at the time, which mostly depended on what relationship I found myself in, or what type of employment was funding my fun. Then, it happened. I grew up, sort of.
Ten years ago, my attention was primarily focused on all things political. I read books, watched national and world news, and participated in any discussion that had politics as the topic. My interest in politics faded after the 2008 election and today, sadly, I couldn’t tell you who the Speaker of the House is. However, I can now, faithfully, tell you who the Speaker of this house is. I can confidently explain much about God, so much that I may be considered intellectually bound by the hold He has on my mind. But don’t let this post’s title throw you, I am far from an intellectual; rather, I am a person of interest.
As a person whose interest happens to be only the most compelling topic ever, the study of God (otherwise known as theology), and then learning to apply this knowledge through life, I’m finding myself even more interested (and, perhaps, more intellectual) the farther in I go. But before I boast beyond return about my deep desire to know everything I can about God, I take a breather and realize that even this is guided by Him. I may be the one who sits for hours, reading and soaking in various aspects of every piece of writing, listening to sermons and letting the audible message infiltrate my thoughts, contemplating decisions to make and paths to take with great consideration of His Word always bouncing around, but even the choice to spend my time this way is one that is covered by God’s grace in keeping my interest in Him piqued.
J.I. Packer, in his book Knowing God, writes, “All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me” (p. 41). Although I am humbly grateful that He has kept this pursuit of knowledge about Him constant for the past few years, I’m irrationally fearful that my interest will fade. And, unlike our politics, our religious beliefs intimately affect every moment when it’s done right. Which leads me into why I can describe myself as a liar, in addition to a person of interest (okay, an intellectual). Packer, again, brings home this point as he calls out “anyone who, on the basis of ‘religious experiences,’ says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (p. 40; 1 John 2:4). Ouch.
How many of us who claim Christianity as our religion, also claim that we know God? My bet is most, if not all, of us would admit to this. However, how many of us can assuredly say that we do all that the Bible, the very word of God, commands? Uh, that’d be none of us. As a matter of fact, finding even one person who actually knows all of the commands, let alone keeps them, would be impossible. That is the foremost motivation for burying our brains in Scripture so that we can make an honest attempt at knowing the God we bow before by continually learning what He desires. If we neglect this discipline, we neglect knowing Him and knowing our true standing in His eyes. We end up fretting over circumstances that ought not be fretted about, failing to find the fullness of the forgiveness of our past, present, and future sins that Jesus Christ redeemed us from, and perhaps most detrimentally, we miss out on the gift of a foretaste of what spending eternity with our Triune God will be like.
Yes, I am a liar because I do not always do what He commands, but the Truth is in me. Although this statement may seem to contradict the 1 John verse above, if we’re to look at the words that precede, “on the basis of ‘religious experiences,'” we can see that my claim isn’t based on an experience, but actual intellectual knowledge of God and His Word. My feelings and experiences aren’t the driving force behind my religious beliefs, but instead, it is the other way around. “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). As a boastful intellectual liar, won’t you join me?