As though any proof were needed that a change of tack can produce results, we get our brother Bosco posing one of the best comments made here:
if THEY DONT KNOW jESUS they are lost. You can religion all you want. But you wont have Jesus.
Our good friend Theopiletos (whom it is good to see back here again), thanking Bosco for the change of tone commented:
You’re entirely right that knowledge alone (whether of the Bible, or of theology, or of doctrine) does not bring salvation or holiness. That was the mistake of gnosticism in the early days of Christianity, and it is a very easy mistake for educated Christians today to slip into. Only Christ saves, and only the Holy Spirit changes hearts.
I am guessing, but I doubt any of us would disagree with the sentiments expressed here. That raises, though, the interesting questions of what it means to ‘know Jesus’. I have a suspicion that some of the communications problems which bedevil us as Christians stem from different answers to this question.
Bosco, and if I read them right, Rob and Geoffrey have all had what might be called ‘conversion experiences’ – by that I mean some direct encounter with Christ which saw them dedicate their lives to his service in whatever way he guided them towards. For others among us, or perhaps it is just for me, the experience was less dramatic, but if I was asked if I know Jesus and know that the one route to salvation is through him, I would say yes.
I was first introduced to Christianity through the Methodist church my mother sometimes attended. My father was a fiercely atheist socialist whose life experiences had left him with the firm view there was no God and that all religion was the opiate of the masses. So my mother, who came from a Methodist family, went to church almost on the sly, taking me with her, and my father turned a blind eye – at least for a while.
At the church, i felt instantly at home, and what I learned in Sunday School made sense in a way I could never explain, and never felt the need to explain. I knew Jesus was my Saviour. He never came to me to tell me in any supernatural way, I just knew it in the way I knew I breathed air; it was part of the world in the way the sun was. At some point, I suspect it was when he found himself having to take care of two younger children n a Sunday morning, my father put his foot down and there was no more going to church.
That did not stop me believing in Jesus or wanting to know more about him, but it did leave me rather like a ship-wrecked sailor seeking a ship. At University, when I was free to do as I chose, I went to the Anglican chapel in College and the local Anglican church and became an Anglican. In the church and in its fellowship, I found a way to a deeper knowledge and experience of Christ. If I had to characterise it, it I would say it was like the deepening of a relationship. But something stalled and, as it can with relationships, for a long time there was a familiarity without any deepening, and even periods when he felt very far away; in retrospect, it was me who was very far away.
An urge (from where?) to do something about this separation, led me to seek to deepen my prayer life. A friend had given me a Rosary, and I thought it might be a good way in, as my Orthodox prayer rope, which I had been using, was not helping. Cutting a long story short, in that prayer a route to Jesus opened up, or the barriers in the way vanished, whichever, it felt as though once more, the old channels were not only open, but deepening.
Now it may be to others this just looks odd, and it may be that those with a more vivid encounter wonder what sort of ‘knowing Jesus’ this is. To that I can answer only, it is the way he has made himself known to me. Would I have liked something more dramatic? No, I am deeply grateful for what he has given me. I find my church a place which encourages my prayer life and which provides an opportunity for me to deploy my gifts, such as they are, in his service.
So, thank you to Bosco for raising a good point.