Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Big Idea - Information vs. Relationship

As my reading spree continues, I've now finished Dave Ferguson's The Big Idea. I was breezing through it on Friday and was hit by one big message of my own (I'm still praying through it).

To get a better idea of the book, I'll point you toward two other posts on the book, one by Tony Morgan here, and another by Todd Rhodes at Monday Morning Insight here. I don't really think I could add much more to their insights.

One thing that I am personally struck with from the book (and the others I have been reading) is about the disconnect between information and relationship - that relationship, and not information, causes transformation. While Ferguson doesn't specifically talk about relationship, he does address information.

Ferguson basically makes the point that the average person is bombarded with more information from radio, TV, online, and print than "the average person in seventeenth-century England was likely to encounter in a lifetime." And the church is a part of this idea overload. Unfortunately, more information means less clarity and even less action. The truth of the matter is that the old adage is right; sometimes "less IS more." There is often greater impact when our communication is laser-focused and simple.

In the end, I still don't believe being a Christ-follower is about information. When the religious expert asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, he was asking Him to sift through all the information - they had hundreds of commandments and wanted to know the single most important one. Oddly enough, Jesus' response wasn't exactly a single answer: "Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength" AND "love your neighbor as yourself." Why? Because everything is based on our relationship with God and others. Without that relationship in place, nothing else matters.

Being a follower of Jesus is about more than just being nice, or right, or good. It's about knowing God and people. The apostle Paul hit it on the head when he wrote thoughts like "I want to KNOW Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death," and "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of KNOWING Christ Jesus my Lord," This isn't just an informational "knowing," but an intimate "knowing" as one knows a spouse.

We've got to realize that there is something more that just knowing ABOUT Christ when we read Romans 6:3-5, "Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been UNITED with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be UNITED with him in his resurrection."

We believe in a PERSON, not a set of rules or a list of facts we agree with. Even Jesus prayed to the Father for us in John 17:3, "Now this is eternal life: that they may KNOW you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."

Above all other things, let us not be ashamed. Because we can know WHOM we have believed!