As we consider religion, Christianity, the Bible, church, it is very easy for us to compartmentalize and reduce all these down to the least common denominator. We never verbalize it, but we sometimes think “What is the least I can do to still be considered a Christian?” For some it boils down even further, “What is the least I have to do to avoid hell when I die?” So we tell ourselves if I read a few Bible verses every month, or attend church every 2 to 3 weeks, then I am ok. But do Bible reading, church attendance, or any of the other “religious” activities really ensure we get all the right things done to be acceptable to God?
I was listening this week to a podcast and the speaker told a story about his friend and his mom whom they had visited in hospice. The mom said to her son, “Do you realize how important it is that you be in church?” For some reason, this statement stuck out to me. I began to think, if I was on my deathbed, is this the sentiment I would want to convey to my children. Don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer in the importance of a church community in developing faith. I also believe other disciplines are helpful to spiritual growth and formation. Serving, missions, giving, fellowship, discipleship. The list could go on. All good things. But what is the most important?
This is not a criticism of what the mom said. Just a thought about what I hope to communicate to my own children. While I want them to be involved in a local church, I want them to be generous with their time and money. I want them to lead others to Christ and help others grow in faith. But more importantly, I want them to know God. To really know him. And that is what God desires from us as well. To know him.
As I was reading this morning in Hosea 6:6b, “I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings." (NLT) More than our church attendance, our tithes and offerings, our working with kids or singing on the praise team, God wants us to know him. God wants YOU to know him. To know him not just by an intellectual assent that there is a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever present. But to know him by personally experiencing his love, his grace, his mercy in your life each and every day.
Do you know him? Not do you know about him. But do you KNOW him? Not are you doing things for him. Do you KNOW him? That’s the question I want to pose to my kids. The other things (church, service, missions, giving, etc.) will take care of themselves if we get the answer to this question right.