Most men and women who come to Regeneration want to know how to change their lives, how to break old patterns and replace them with new, healthy, holy ones. To that end, the information we teach is incredibly valuable.
Valuable, but nowhere near enough.
Knowledge is not life, and knowing about life is not the same as having life.
In the beginning, the serpent was sowing lies when he encouraged the first man and woman to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One of the lies was this: If you know more, you’ll gain the life you want.
I think we buy the same lie today.
Self-help resources continue to be a booming industry, politicians rarely go wrong promising improved education, news is updated online day and night, and as of October 2022, there were over two and a half million active podcasts totaling over 71 million episodes . We tune in and give our attention in hopes of well-being, a healthier mind and body, a better life for our kids, a more secure future. In Christian circles, we also give our attention to Bible studies, Christian books, and Sunday sermons, often with the same goals, but also simply to live a more godly life.
I know for me I benefit tremendously from the books, podcasts, and news I pay attention to (well, some of it). I’ll bet you too. But it is woefully inadequate.
Even Jesus, who was a brilliant communicator and teacher, did not come primarily to give you more information. Not even more information about God.
Jesus’ primary mission was to restore your union with God by giving you himself.
Listen to Jesus’ words in John 5 and 6:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (5:39, 40, emphasis added).
“It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me…” (6:45 emphasis added)
In between these verses, Jesus feeds the 5000, and immediately after these verses, he tells his listeners they must eat his flesh and drink his blood if they in order to have life (6:53-58).
Jesus is getting at something vitally important for his listeners, and for you and me.
Think again with me about what happened in Eden. Enticed by the sight of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve “took of its fruit and ate” (Gen. 3:6). Facing death on the cross, Jesus broke bread and gave it to his disciples saying, “Take, eat; this is my body” (Mt. 26:26), and he gave them wine saying, “Drink this, all of you” (Mt. 26:27).
Adam and Eve grasped for godlike knowledge (knowledge that could make them like God) and ended up naked, ashamed, and without life. Jesus, the visible form of the invisible God, gave himself so you and I might have union with him and live.
What are the implications for you if you’re struggling with any habitual unwanted sexual behavior (or any other sin, heartache, wound, or illness for that matter)? True information is helpful. God has created order in the universe so that we may be able to learn, gain knowledge, and become wise. So go for it. Learn! Doing so can help you understand yourself and your struggle better, can open your eyes to unhealthy patterns keeping you stuck, and illuminate a better way forward.
But what you need most of all is union with God. Why? Because you were made for union with God. Pursuing knowledge apart from intimacy with Jesus then is like trying to turn on a lamp by plugging its power cord into a book. It’s like trying to get a tree to grow by playing a horticulture podcast. It’s like a man leaving his spouse at home and taking her photo to dinner.
Jesus gives himself to you. Take. Eat. Drink. All of you.
One practical help with this is to use your imagination to help you take hold of the reality of God with you. Using your imagination does not mean what you are envisioning is imaginary. The aim here is to use your God-given imagination to see God’s unseen reality, that which is more real than what you can see with your physical eyes. You’ve used your imagination to participate in unholy things, so now consecrate your imagination for God and his purposes.
- When you pray, imagine Jesus right here with you. You might see him on the cross, standing before the empty tomb, or simply walking next to you.
- Pray aloud, talking with Jesus as One who is present with you now.
- Lift your face, holding your palms up and your arms out to place yourself in a posture of openness and receptivity. Envision the Holy Spirit enfolding you, permeating you, filling you.
- Open your arms as you stand before the Lord and say, “My body is for the Lord and the Lord is for my body.”
- Place a hand on your chest and say, “This is my body, given for You, Lord.”
- Worship with others.
- Partake in the eucharist every chance you get.
I hope this helps, friends.
I’d love for you to add your thoughts! Where do you see knowledge (about God, life, etc.) getting in the way of life with God? What information has helped you live more connected to God?