Good morning from Managua, Nicaragua!
Have you ever considered what the difference might be between information about an object or a person and the actual object or person themselves? For example, if I were to ask you to give me information about a pen, you might say it contains ink, is used for writing and is typical made of plastic or metal. While those all may be accurate statements about the pen, would you truly “know” the pen just by having some general facts about it? I would say probably not. To know the pen, you must have actually encountered the pen itself. By knowing the pen, you can hold it your hand and do something with it. If you were to try to do the same with the information about the pen, by my estimation, you would be terribly disappointed. This question may seem ridiculous to you and that is because, on some level, it is. The question then is why do we often assume this is true with God?
I presented the same question to the young people in El Canyon on Monday night – is knowing information about God and Jesus the same as knowing and having a relationship with Jesus? In this world, whether consciously or unconsciously, we believe and live as if they are the same thing. One day when Jesus was talking to his followers Matthew, one of Jesus’ closest followers, recorded the following words- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23, NIV 1984) The difference between knowing Jesus and knowing about Jesus is great and has great consequences.
Understanding this difference is incredibly important for anyone, but is especially critical in the work we are doing in Nicaragua. A clear understanding of what it means to actually know Jesus has the power to bring hope to someone’s life both today and for eternity. In fact, we have found that people’s perspective on what is possible for their lives changes when they are in a real relationship with Christ. Instead of being overwhelmed by the bleakness of the poverty around them, they begin to believe their Father in heaven has a perfect plan for their lives and begin living as such. Much like the pen, however, just knowing information about Jesus does not typically change people’s lives today and does not change their destiny for eternity. It is in knowing and having a real relationship with Christ that change begins to happen and that makes the difference. When you “know” the pen, you can do something with it. When you know God, he can do something in you.
The great news is that knowing Jesus is not difficult. Jesus says in the Bible, that all we have to do is come to the realization that we need to have a relationship with him and ask him to come into our lives. When this happens in a person’s, it changes their life. This change is what has led me to places like Nicaragua and to believing that hope can change the world because it has changed my life. Information and a relationship are very different things. Which do you know?
– James Belt