IVP - Strangely Dim - Knowing What You Know (Part 3)

August 4, 2010

Knowing What You Know (Part 3)

This week we say goodbye to Deborah Gonzalez, our summer editorial intern. She's been a great help to us--not least in her willingness to write three posts for Strangely Dim. She's also offered a refreshing reminder about the difference between knowing about and knowing--an all too obvious blind spot for people in the publishing business, where authors' humanity is commodified into brand and platform, their stories squished from three dimensions to two. Read Deborah's first two posts here and here, then come back and complete the trilogy. Feel free to Google her while you're at it; the stalker becomes the stalkee . . .


For those who have tuned in to my last two posts, you know that the common theme has been about knowing people. I've been thinking a lot about this lately, probably because I am doing a temporary internship where getting to know people is slightly difficult. Not because people aren't friendly (they are!), but because it takes time to get to know someone, and unfortunately, my time here is limited.


To make up for lost time, so to speak, I read up on people before I got here and connected with them while I was here (through Facebook, Twitter, etc.). I am amazed at what I've been able to learn about people without spending a whole lot of time with them. Call this my confession of all my stalkerish tendencies--but c'mon, you know you have them too.  The Internet--combined with people's willingness to be transparent about their lives--makes it surprisingly easy to learn things about people without really knowing them.


The more I think about this phenomenon, the more I think we have a similar dynamic with God. In a culture like ours--one with freedom of speech and vast amounts of information at our disposal--it is pretty likely that everyone knows a little something about Jesus. If you grew up in a Christian environment, it is likely that you know a lot about Jesus. Many of us have read the Bible's account of what Jesus said and did. We've even read Christian books and commentaries to learn how other people interpret Jesus' words and actions. If asked Jesus trivia, some (you know who you are) may get a perfect score.


However, knowing a lot about Jesus doesn't necessarily mean I know Jesus--just like knowing about a person doesn't mean I really know them, even if I feel like I do.


Truly knowing Jesus involves more than just knowing about him or reading what other people have to say about him. It requires meeting him, sitting down with him and having a conversation. Truly knowing Jesus entails a mutual relationship, one in which he reveals the truth about himself to us, and we do the same to him--confessing our mess and allowing him to work in us.


Jesus wasn't just a good teacher dispensing information; he claimed that if we come to him, he will forgive our sins, heal us from physical and emotional pain, and reconcile our broken relationships. With the information available to us, we know this about Jesus, but what do we do with this information? Do we take it to heart, or do we go on living as if we didn't know? Do we keep the information to ourselves or share it with others? Do we keep Jesus at arm's length, or do we go deeper? What we know about Jesus can either lead to monumental blessings or a life of complacency--but it rests on whether we move from knowing about to truly knowing. 


I am continually amazed by how analogous our relationships with others are to our relationship with God. It's almost as if God gave us one another for practice: if we can master intimacy with each other, intimacy with God will come easy. If we don't allow ourselves to open up with each other, it is likely we won't want to be vulnerable with God either. This is what makes our digital culture so challenging: it is easy to gain a false sense of intimacy. We are more connected than ever before, yet in some ways more distant that we've ever been.


When I first started my internship at IVP, I felt like I knew people, but I really didn't. So what did I do? I got to know them to the best of my ability in the short time that I had, and I plan on maintaining my relationships after I leave. When it comes to knowing God, the reality is that we don't know how much time left we have in this life. Yet there is so much to know about God, and it can be known only by welcoming his presence on a regular basis. Don't settle for knowing what you know, but dig deeper, and you'll be surprised by what else you will discover.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at August 4, 2010 2:51 PM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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