Have you ever had someone tell you a story and it just didn’t seem to be as exciting to you as they seem to be about explaining it? Or a funny situation that happened to them and they are laughing nearly uncontrollably and yet, it isn’t really that funny to you? Why is it so funny to them? “You had to be there!” Still yet there are those lovely souls that give great detail in explaining something that you have no interest in and yet they feel the need to give you every last detail because they experienced it and they want you to experience it the same way they did…but you weren’t there.
To step it up just a notch, have you ever had one of those conversations where there are two people talking about the funny situation. They are cracking up and barely even understandable because they are laughing so hard. Meanwhile, you are standing there with a dumb smile on your face wishing you had some idea as to what actually happened? No, I am not referring to my high school experience with dances. All my friends went, I was far too shy. This seems to happen to everyone sometime.
It isn’t as funny for us…we don’t experience it.
Now suppose I go and try to tell this funny story to someone else who wasn’t at the event. The story seems to lose even more humor and momentum. In fact, you probably wouldn’t share the story because you don’t have the same enjoyment out of the story that they did. So anything emotionally that you could produce with that story would be fake and a shell of the truth.
The information is not first hand.
You could not muster up the charisma to make the story very interesting or believable. A special person with an outrageous personality could somehow make a few people chuckle. However, I doubt they would walk away talking about the event in the way that the people who experienced and enjoyed it firsthand would. My point is this…
…why do believers try to be happy with their spiritual walk by experiencing God in a nearly exclusively second hand manner?
We, as humans, seem to be prone to return to being ruled by the selfish mindset.
We love to experience things. I have experienced some very cool things in my life, and I love it. I have been on the Eiffel tower, the beaches of Biarritz, to numerous places in Spain and France, been to Beijing, the Great Wall, Xiamen, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, the Rockies, Arianna’s birth, and so many other places and experiences. Those are the big things, but I love to experience small things too. I love just about every meal I eat, I love it when Arianna crawls up to me with a big smile when I get home, there are certain people that when I see them walk through the door it makes me so happy, and so many other normal, often enjoyed experiences.
Yet, why am I often satisfied with a second hand relationship with God?
We have relied so often on other people’s rationale of who God is that we start basing everything we know on what other people say. We rarely rely on a personal experience with God and less often seek that experience with Him. We have done this for centuries, this relying on others perceptions and interpretations rather than seeking His guidance.
Mind you, God uses other to guide us, but not to take His place in explaining who He is to us personally.
We are prone to this; it started with Adam and Eve. The enemy made eating the fruit seem like the rationale thing to do…mankind fell. God gave the law, but mankind sought after idols and things more tangible, because they made more sense to him…he could experience that physically. Later mankind found a way to make the law tangible by making it a social status, if you follow the rules you were higher on the ladder. The law became a guilt based system faulty because of what man made it (Romans 8). The attitude was all wrong, and Christ came and pronounced that (Matthew 5) and yet on and on we go, we get shaken up and we revert back to clean, explainable, second hand religion.
This barrier of faulty second handed relationship is disturbing. We cannot rely solely on other people’s experiences to satisfy our need for God. We must rely on His Spirit (2 Corinthians 2). Otherwise we walk away hearing a true story that may have other people all excited but we have missed the experienced and are therefore unfulfilled. We will not feel the excitement to share the story, and we will understand the fullness that comes from the experience. This leads to a faulty understanding of God that trickles down to every aspect of our spiritual life.