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Saturday, February 22, 2014

About or From - You Choose

There is a vast difference between learning "about" something or someone and learning "from" that object or person.  When we learn "about" someone, we are learning things that are closely associated with that individual, but we are not necessarily learning what makes that person "tick".  When we get to learn "from" them, we get to know the "original" and nothing is quite the same as getting to know the "original".  Anything less just doesn't quite reach the same level of experience.  The thing which makes "about" and "from" very distinct as it comes to our relationship with Christ is the danger of never drawing close enough to recognize the real thing when we see it.  As long as we are just learning "about" Christ, we get familiar with some of the nuances of his character, but we don't sense the action of that character within us. When we are learning "from" Christ, it is because we have leaned into him, heard the beat of his heart, and drawn strength from that nearness.  "About" doesn't help us spot the imitation when it might come - "from" helps us differentiate more accurately between what is "genuine" and what is the cleverly designed "imitation".

Don’t be lured away from him by the latest speculations about him. The grace of Christ is the only good ground for life. Products named after Christ don’t seem to do much for those who buy them.  (Hebrews 13:9 MSG)

I think we need to recognize the potential of merely knowing "about" him - it opens us up to being lured away by the latest speculation about him.  We have to live "in" grace - not just appreciate that grace "exists".  We have to live "in" Christ - not just appreciate him as a good man, a great teacher, or as a means for us to get into heaven.  We need a close, intimate relationship "with" Jesus in order to learn "from" Jesus.  I have good friends and then I have my best friend.  What she knows about me that some of the others don't might not seem significant at first, but the closeness we have developed allows her to "tune into" my moods, know when I need to talk, and then know when we just need to be quiet together while we enjoy just being with each other.  We have learned "from" each other - not just "about" each other.  We have developed a level of relational "intimacy" which allows us to understand more than the superficial stuff about each other.

I like the imagery of this passage - "Products named after Christ don't seem to do much for those who by them."  Chew on that one a little - I think it might just speak to each of us about some of the "products named after Christ" we might have bought into over the years.  For example, have any of us been duped into believing something from scripture just because someone else told us it was in scripture?  Perhaps we think the adage "God helps those who help themselves" is from scripture - a direct quote of sorts.  Have you ever been told this by a well-meaning brother or sister in the Lord?  Well, the adage is attributable to Ben Franklin, or even apparent in Aesop's Fables - not God!  Does that one shock you?  Then look it up!  We find ourselves buying into many "products named after Christ" without really testing them to see if they are indeed the "real deal".  In fact, the Bereans were given kudos for taking what they were taught, then going home, studying them over and over again against scripture to see if indeed the teachings were in alignment with scripture - something which might just helps us not buy-into products "about" Christ and draw us nearer to learning "from" him!

If we can begin to see the value of daily drawing close to Jesus, allowing his Word to penetrate our lives, even if we don't "get" all we read each time we read it, we will begin to develop the protections we need which will keep us from buying into "products named after Christ".  In time, the more we expose ourselves to truth, the more truth begins to penetrate the recesses of our minds and thoughts.  When we hear or see something which might seem to appeal to our senses, we often will also be met with the "contrary" warning of that thing just not being exactly right.  Remember, all falsehood bears some semblance of truth, or we'd never be drawn into believing the falsehood.  We learn fully of God's grace in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ.  We learn of the actions of grace in his life actions - those things he modeled on our behalf.  We learn the generosity of grace when we begin to see the sacrifice grace made on our behalf in the person of Christ.  We learn "from" Christ - not just about him - building "safety" into our lives as a result.

In short - to keep from being lured into stuff which merely proclaims to be a product which carries the name of Christianity, we have to learn from the one who Christianity is all about!  Jesus!  Just sayin!