By Wayne Harmon
In my last post I asked “Why do we believe as we do?” Today I want to look at the “because” to the “why”.
I said that the answers are not “for the Bible tells me so”. There are many books, articles, papers, speeches, sermons, etc. giving us Bible verses and quotes as the basis for our beliefs. I say that is not good enough.
Every religion can quote from a book or a teacher as reasons for its belief system. Every religion hopes it is right, but no religion knows it is right.
About now some are getting a bit agitated at what they’re reading.
“Hey! How dare you question my faith? I know I’m right because Jesus died for my sins! And I reject your doubt in His Name!”
Yeah. I know. But my original question remains: Why do you believe that Jesus died for your sins?
“Well,” you sputter, “Jesus HIMSELF said in John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.’ So there!”
Yes. I’ve read that, too. As a child, that was the first Bible verse I ever memorized. But again, why do you believe it, and why do you believe that it applies to you?
We could go on and on like this taking all the verses that we’ve been taught to quote as the basis for our beliefs. I’m not saying that is a bad thing to do. But it isn’t enough for belief.
I will illustrate with a little story:
A well-respected and much-loved prince would soon ascend his father’s throne. This was the talk of the kingdom. The father had been a good king, and the people were excited about the son continuing his legacy.
Everyone was talking about the prince. One man in particular became obsessed with all things “princely”. He set out to learn as much about the prince as he could. He talked about the prince so much that he became known as “that guy who knows the prince.”
“That guy” met and interviewed the prince’s nannies, his teachers, his butlers and his childhood friends. He learned about his first words and steps. He learned about his favorite foods, colors and music. He learned about the prince’s hobbies and personal interests. He spent so much time with the prince’s friends, mentors and acquaintances that they thought he knew the prince personally.
“That guy” was well liked in gatherings where the prince was the topic of discussion. He could provide intimate details of the prince’s life. He could talk with great confidence about the likes and dislikes of the prince.
He repeated anecdotes of the prince’s school years with such detail and clarity that everyone thought he was there with the prince. In fact, his knowledge and obsession with the prince were so deep, that he felt as if he had personally been with the prince all his life.
At last the coronation arrived. The people wept and cheered as the kindly old king removed the crown from his own head and placed in on his son’s. Then the king knelt before his son and kissed his hand. The prince was now the king!
Following the coronation the new king held a private reception. Only those with invitations personally signed by him were allowed to enter. All of his old friends, classmates, teachers, nannies, butlers and colleagues were invited. In fact, everyone that was invited had been befriended and interviewed by “that guy”. They all had assumed that he was the king’s friend, and thought it perfectly natural that he join them at the reception.
The king greeted them personally at the door to the reception hall, announcing each of them as they entered. “That guy”, who had devoted his life to studying and learning about the prince, was vibrating with anticipation at finally meeting the man who had consumed his life. No one in that room knew more about the king than he did. He barely maintained his composure as he approached the king and extended his hand.
Then the room froze.
The king looked him squarely in the eye and asked, “Who are you?”
An icy knot hit him in the stomach and spread until he was frozen with a horrible realization.
He knew the kings first words as a baby.
He knew when the baby prince took his first steps.
He knew all about the prince’s first day of school.
He knew every play the prince had made on the school’s athletic teams.
He knew about the prince’s first date.
He knew all the prince’s friends.
He knew everything about the prince!
He didn’t know the prince, the king.
And even worse —
The king didn’t know him.
Jesus refers to a similar event in Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV):
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one 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 in your name perform many miracles?’
“Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Paul makes a similar comment in II Timothy 1:12 (NIV), “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”
You see, the “because” to the “why” isn’t what we know.
It’s Whom we know.
And more importantly, Who knows us.
Copyright 2014: Wayne Harmon