Deep into the evening on that first Maundy Thursday, Jesus offered a prayer for his disciples, in which he defines for us true, eternal life: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” In his words, we discover that eternal life is not primarily about duration but relation. Knowing God is life. Notice Jesus doesn’t say that knowing God brings life, as if life is somehow secondary to the relationship. No, the relationship is life. But if knowing God is life – why are churches such lifeless places? Let’s admit it, churches, and sometimes church people, aren’t exactly known to be the life of the party. I think the reason lies in a simple mistake we churchgoers make. Knowing God is not the same thing as knowing about God.
A lot of people know about God, but knowing about God isn’t life, knowing Him is. J. I. Packer in his classic text Knowing God explains it this way, “We are perhaps, orthodox evangelicals. We can state the gospel clearly; we can smell unsound doctrine a mile away. If asked how one may come to know God, we can at once produce the right formula: that we come to know God through Jesus Christ the Lord, in virtue of his cross and mediation, on the basis of his word of promise, by the power of the Holy Spirit, via a personal exercise of faith. Yet the gaiety, goodness, and unfetteredness of spirit which are the marks of those who have known God are rare among us. . . You can have all the right notions in your head without ever tasting in your heart the realities to which they refer.”
I think what Dr. Packer is getting at is the difference between knowing the recipe for your favorite dish, an actually tasting the mouthwatering cuisine. The scriptures invite us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” In relational terms, it’s the difference between knowing about someone you’ve never met, or knowing your best friend. Best friends are life giving. In my life, Alyson is my best friend. Knowing her provides me with life. Not the information of knowing her – like when her birthday is, or where she grew up, or what her favorite flower is – I know those things – but what gives me life is knowing her. It’s the interacting with her, of seeing her smile, of hearing her get excited over something the kids have done, of feeling her comforting embrace after a tough day. It’s the relationship, not the information that gives life value. If this is true for a friendship with one who is equally sinful, how much truer is it with God?
So today, take time to stop and taste and see that the Lord is good. You can do that by turning the radio off in the car and voicing a prayer. You can do it by finding twenty minutes to read John 13-17, the account of the first Maundy Thursday, that you may encounter again the Savior who in his love washes our feet. Or join us tonight at 6:00pm as we taste the bread that is his body and the cup that is his blood that were broken and spilt for us.
“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” Philippians 3:8