There is a world of difference between knowing about something and actually knowing something. One is a head thing, knowledge. The other is a heart thing, experience.
Gathering cold, intellectual facts about someone doesn't compare with the life experiences we go through first-hand with that person.
I thought about this the other day when I saw some of those large, blow-up figures people place in their yards for the holidays. As long as the fans are plugged in to fill them with air, the figures are animated, bigger than life, showy and fun.
When the fan is turned off, they sag to the ground, flat, and are a jumble of lifeless plastic bags.
Looking at those deflated balloons, I wondered what kind of Christians are we. Having been a Christian for many years, it's easy to be on auto-pilot with the routine. We can know the worship outline by heart, and can sing most of the hymns without looking at the words. But do we seek Him enough?
Getting ready for Christmas, putting out the decorations, and buying gifts, are we like those blow-ups, just bopping around because the holiday pressure is keeping us puffed up?
Moving from knowing about Jesus, into a lifestyle with Him takes a bit of responsibility. It is so easy to overlook Him in the bustle of getting ready for the gift-giving, and the family events.
We want to have God's fresh air blown into these weak and cracked vessels that, for the most part, seem more physical than spiritual.
As time goes by, we learn that juggling the contradiction of knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus needs the regular fan of time-out. Time for prayer, scripture study, thinking and listening to Him. He is our life support if we stay linked to Him, and watch out for those obstacles to faith that are distractions.
Everyone dreams and makes plans for the future. Then they work hard to see those dreams and plans come true. But to make the most of life, we must include God's plan in our plans. He alone knows what is best for us; he alone can fulfill his purpose for us. We need to listen to him.
See Psalm 139 about how completely God knows us. He knows us down to the number of hairs on our heads (Matt. 10:30). And still he accepts and loves us, mistakes included.
The Bible is the place to look for the "fresh air" faith that Jesus will be there to help in the storms in life: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17.
The Bible is the bridge by which we can go from knowing about Jesus, to actually knowing Him. The kicker is that it's up to us to either leave it on the shelf, or use it for our daily fresh air.
Bonnie Donnelly is a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Christy Hudson at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer's convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.