There is this quest–a deep and passionate desire to truly know God. Because of this desire, we often find ourselves turning to those who offer us the deepest understanding and knowledge of who is God. Through books, sermons, podcasts, articles, blog posts, and conversations we seek to fulfill that longing. This quest we set out on, however, perhaps is leading us farther away from the very One our hearts are longing to know in the first place. It is almost as if, before we realize it, we find that we are living out our spiritual lives, as outsiders.
The spiritual outsider is the one who will hear and read about a great God who does great things, but will miss out on knowing Him due to a lifetime spent learning about Him. His magnificence and splendor is the very thing He is beckoning us to come and know, not just hear about and understand. He pursued and ransomed us, not just so we can sit back and learn what others have come to know about Him, but rather, so we can personally experience Him.
In His sovereignty and grace, there is a provision of many solid spiritual mentors for believers to gain godly perspective and insight. I am thankful for these men and women, many of whom have blessed my own spiritual walk with the Lord. I read their words and listen to what they have to say, because I know they are His vessel and God is accomplishing His work through their lives. There is a great importance and value in the gift of teaching.
Who do we seek first?
I recently listened to a Francis Chan podcast, a very good message about The True Vine. Towards the end of the message, He quoted a friend of his who had made an observation concerning Christians, particularly American Christians. Chan quoted,
“They (believers) talk about Him (God) like an outsider, like an outsider looking in and observing Him, rather than having just been with Him.”
An outsider? Is there so large a group of people who spend the majority of their lives spiritually on the outside of their relationship with God? Is it possible that many are spiritually living as though on the outside of the tabernacle veil? Is it that we are more consumed by what others have to say about God rather than hearing from God Himself? When I look into my own heart and my own spiritual walk, I can’t say that I have much room to argue.
Here is where it hit home.
Chan goes on to quote his friend,
“I feel like the people in your country are happy to hear from Moses when they can actually walk up the mountain themselves and meet with Almighty God…but they aren’t interested. They just want to hear from Moses, they want to hear from you, Francis.”
I thought, If I graphed my time learning about God, the time spent listening to sermons and podcasts, and the time I spend reading articles and books, and compared it to the time I spent before the presence of the Great I AM…would I see that I, too, am an outsider? Do I find myself satisfied being connected to “Moses”, rather than connected directly to God? Do I get so distracted with hearing from others about God, that I forget that through Christ’s death and resurrection, I have access to walk up the mountain to God Himself?
There is so much more. Yes, God has divinely given people gifts, through the Spirit, to reveal who He is and He has given gifts to people to communicate His truth. His glory is being proclaimed, and that is so very good.
However, here is where we (I) need to realize that His very nature calls for so much more from us. He doesn’t want a satisfaction to be found in Moses, He wants satisfaction found in Him. I want my desire and my actions to reflect a deep want in knowing Him over knowing about Him. When we move to the intimate space on the mountaintop and spend the time to know Him, we experience Him deeper and in a beautiful way. In the direct connection to Him, is where He reveals Himself to us.
His Spirit is whispering words of truth as He begins drawing us into the sacred space of that holy mountain. Do we turn our gaze to Holy of Holies and fall in awe of His wonder and grace? Do we sit on that mountaintop and meditate on His word? Do we still all other thoughts and voices as we center our hearts and mind on Him? I hope the answer, is yes.
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death, so that I may somehow attain to the resurrection from the dead. Phillipians 3:1
The mountain may sometimes be a hard climb and it absolutely takes effort. But, don’t you think that when we are sitting at the top of that glorious mountain, in the throne room of grace, that it absolutely will be worth it? Is it not that much more fulfilling to know Him, than to just know about Him?
But to enjoy him we must know him. Seeing is savoring. If he remains a blurry, vague fog, we may be intrigued for a season. But we will not be stunned with joy, as when the fog clears and you find yourself on the brink of some vast precipice.
– John Piper