Saturday, July 27, 2013

Knowledge verses Experience

 “There is a warning here for every one of us. It is easy to sit in discussion groups, to sit in a study and to read books, it is easy to discuss the intellectual truth of Christianity; but the essential thing is to experience the power of Christianity. And it is fatally easy to start at the wrong end and to think of Christianity as something to be discussed, not as something to be experienced. It is certainly important to have an intellectual grasp of the orb of Christian truth; but it is still more important to have a vital experience of the power of Jesus Christ.” William Barclay

I grew up with the wonderful gift of a family and church was was committed to the truth. Somehow in the midst of all that truth about Jesus I failed to encounter and experience Him for myself in a way that satisfied my soul and made me want to tell the world about Him. At the age of 15 I came to the end of myself and cried out to God for an authentic experience of Him. He answered me and met me in a way that changed me more radically than I have ever been impacted before or since. I did not have an ecstatic experience or a spooky experience. I simply met Christ as the Living Water who fill my soul for real. It happened through a simple reading of scripture the morning after I had prayed to encounter God for myself. As I read Matthew 11:28-30 and heard Christ saying that He wanted to offer me "rest for my soul" I knew that it was Christ and His soul-rest that I had been searching for all my life. I literally jumped up from where I was reading and ran to tell my friend about Christ who fills and satisfies! "He's real! He's actually real!" was the declaration of my life that day and for the years since.

Since that day I have found that unless I keep my encounters with Jesus fresh, His life is diminished in my soul. I need to regularly seek Him and find Him in fresh ways through His Word, through creation, through prayer, through worship, through fellowship, through daily life and much more.

I have also learned to appreciate the reality that experience without truth can also be deadly to our souls. I have met many fellow traveller's along the path of life who like me are committed to experience with God but they lack the knowledge of the truth. There is a lack of authenticity to their encounters and a great danger in leading themselves and others astray. We must seek to be people who have both "the right map" (truth) and "engage the journey for ourselves" (experience).