Did you know that Christianity is different from every other faith ‘expression’ in the universe?  When I was in Toronto, I dialogued a bit with the assistant wedding photographer who was a Muslim.  He echoed the same assertion as my young Muslim pharmacist at Kroger:  “Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all basically the same.”

(That’s an easy assertion to counter – just ask them who Jesus is.  Jews admit Jesus was a teacher of the law.  Muslims claim that he was a prophet.  But divine Son of God?  No way!)

But for the purposes of this blog post, I want to share what gets at the heart of the main difference.

Here’s a general statement that I believe holds true.  Most religions teach you what you have to DO in order to obtain X, Y, or Z.  Christianity is NOT focused on what we do, but what we must KNOW.  Out of correct knowledge of reality, we can then do the right things.  But these ‘right actions’ are not directed at getting anything, earning anything, manipulating anyone.

Here’s what I mean.  Both the Greek and Hebrew words for the verb ‘to know’ are pivotal.  Look at some of these texts.

Paul:  Philippians 3:8 “ ….I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of KNOWING Christ Jesus my Lord.”

Paul:  1 Cor 2:14  “For I determined to KNOW nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

Paul: 2 Cor 2:14 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the KNOWLEDGE of Him in every place

Paul: 2 Cor 4: 6b-7 “ For God….has shone in our hearts to give the light of the KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  For we have THIS TREASURE (what else, but the preceding KNOWLEDGE) in earthen vessels (remember? our original dad, Adam, was made of clay dustJ)

Peter: 2 Peter 3: 3-4  “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our KNOWLEDGE of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises (we have to KNOW them to derive power), so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (what we know changes our desires!)

Habbakuk 2:14 “For the earth will be filled with the KNOWLEDGE of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea”

We are all wired to want to DO and to EARN the goodies of life.  Jesus teaches that having the correct information and then resting on, banking on, savoring and  loving that information, that good news (‘gospel’) above all else is the key.  When his Jewish followers tried to pin him down (what do we have to do to get the ‘A’?) he answered in John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that you BELIEVE in Him whom He has sent”

He didn’t say, “This is the work of God, that you DO”.

Listening to Brad Evangelista (Crosspointe Church, Columbus, GA) and reading a John Piper essay (Desiring God ministries) today left me with the same message.  What we DO, the works we perform, our behavior all come out of WHO we are.  Brad was talking about coaching youth football and challenging the youngsters to play like who they are, Broncos!  John Piper was doing the same.  Since we are recipients (undeserving) of God’s glorious mercy, live like an amazed child of God who has untold treasures awaiting her.

To close, I want to share with you an anecdote expressing the same point that first we have to KNOW who we are, before we can ACT correctly or DO the right thing as fragrant ambassadors of Christ.  I was listening to the story of a woman who had escaped the lies of Mormonism.  When asked what was attractive about the Mormon life, she said it was the knowledge that she would one day be a goddess on her own planet.  She wore a necklace or bracelet with a pendant that was a promise of that, given to her when she was baptized as a Mormon convert. That knowledge made her feel special every day.  (Then came the day when she learned how false the teachings of Mormonism were and she left.)

Shouldn’t knowing the truth make the difference in our day-to-day life?  The best antidote to blah-ness is to feast on Christ. Then we can sincerely exclaim with Paul (Romans 11:33) – “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and KNOWLEDGE of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”