“To most people God is an inference, not a reality, He is a deduction from evidence which they consider adequate, but He remains personally unknown to the individual.” (AW Tozer)
Tozer hits a critical nerve with this statement, because it’s so true for many of us. An inference is a deduction or conclusion concerning certain evidence. It is not something you experience first-hand, but a conclusion you make based on second-hand information. I do not personally know any extinct dinosaurs. Yet, I do believe they were real creatures who lived on the earth once upon a time. They left an archaeological record by which we can reconstruct models of how we assume they looked like. Artists draw pictures of them in our academic textbooks in an effort to make dinosaurs more real, more tangible, and more life-like. But will I ever experientially know a Tyrannosaurs Rex? I doubt it, maybe in heaven one day? I can only know about dinosaurs through inference.
Jesus lived on the earth more than 2 000 years ago. There is a historical record left to us with which we can make our own conclusions. Add to that the numerous cases where people have testified of how Christ has personally affected their lives in the past two millennia. Information on the life and accomplishments of Jesus is today more accessible than any previous time in history. Commentaries, Bible translations, historical records and original texts are not hard to come by.
The question that begs to be answered is: “Why are there so many unchanged lives inside and outside the church?” Why are we struggling to live the ‘Jesus-life’ today in our post-modern world? Why are there so many pew warmers content with empty religious activity? Where are the red-hot Christ-followers daring to throw themselves at the mercy of God?
I think a part of our answer to these questions is linked with this word ‘inference’. When you study geography in a textbook, you wrestle with the concepts until you can master it, until you grasp it.
Here’s the catch! Jesus is not a subject matter to be mastered, but a person to get acquainted with. Many Christians approach their Bibles like academic textbooks. They may have intellectually grasped a certain chapter of the Bible, but they will never grasp the entire mystery of who God is. You see, Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh, and He came to live among us. (John 1:14) He is the living Word which is constantly active and infused with divine energy to bring about eternal change. (Hebrews 4:12) We will never be able to master the Master – He is God through and through; He will not be boxed in by our petty conclusions.
Conclusions do not change lives. The more I’ve tried to convince people into changing, the more they’ve dug their heels in. For you to change, for me to change – we need an experience with the person of Jesus Christ. The highly fanatical, religious expert, named Saul, was changed into Paul, not by another persuasive debate, but by an encounter with the living Christ. The people of God need a fresh encounter with Christ.
Let us stir our hearts to KNOW God! Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)