“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” John 5:39
I believe many things about my wife, Alice. Some are just facts, like her birthday, her place of birth, her parents’ names, and her general history which anyone who is interested could easily learn. Other things require more personal involvement like knowing her character and her heart’s desires. My current beliefs about her are numerous, but my relationship isn’t with my beliefs about Alice; it’s with her. She’s a person. Because of this reality, my beliefs are always growing and deepening as we walk together.
But what if I no longer lived with my wife? Wouldn’t my belief system become static? I would still believe things, but they wouldn’t deepen or grow because of a lack of present experience with her. In the text above, Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees because their relationship isn’t with God Himself; it’s only with their beliefs about Him.
There is a great danger in evangelical Christianity today of making our beliefs about God an idol that takes the place of an actual relationship with Christ. How can I tell if I’m in danger of this idol? Here are four symptoms:
- We become unteachable. We no longer believe what we read in the Bible; we only read what we already believe.
- We become divisive with Christians that don’t believe exactly what we believe about God and Christ. We’re experts and everyone else needs to listen to us to get it right.
- We become suspicious of any fresh moving of the Holy Spirit that doesn’t fit into our box of who we think God is and how He should act.
- We find ourselves bored with worship because our hearts actually love what we believe about God more than we love God Himself.
The Scriptures are not an end in themselves; they direct us into a personal relationship with the God who loves us and died for us. We all know “in part” and even the part we think we know is only a seed of all that is true about the transcendent, majestic, unchanging, and uncreated God of the universe. Getting to know Him is the greatest adventure of our lives and will last for all eternity!