A way of “thinking about thinking” is the KWL chart, which asks:

  • What do I already know?
  • What do I want to know?
  • (And after information is given) What have I learned?

In theory, the KWL chart sounds like a great way to teach people.  And it kind of is, if what you want is for them to know something.

There’s a surprising thing about knowledge, though.  You would think it would be the key to right living.  But is it, by itself?  For example, do we say:

  • “If she only knew how people felt about her rude remarks, she wouldn’t say them.”
  • “If he only knew the damage he was doing, he wouldn’t abuse his wife.”
  • “If they only knew what foods were nutritious, they would eat healthy.”
  • “If they only knew that downloading music was illegal, they wouldn’t do it.”

Most people would laugh off or otherwise dismiss the suggestion that knowledge would be enough in these situations.  People usually know already.  Like, I know the benefits of exercise.  I could probably write a book about exercise.  I could even come up with fantastic exercise tips.  But none of this seems to have much transfer, because I’ve been to the gym all of . . 3 times I think this month.  And its the 21st.

In our hearts, we understand that just knowing isn’t what we usually need.  Yet we play games with ourselves like:

  • I didn’t “know” any better.
  • I didn’t “know’ what to do.
  • I “know” Jesus.

In how many cases can I really say I did not “know” any better?  A few.  I did not know any better when I thought Mr. Rogers could see me from the TV.  When I was four.  But most of the time, I do “know” better.  I “know” the benefits of exercise.  But I still don’t exercise much.

How often do I really not “know” what to do?  Sometimes.  When I don’t know what to do, it’s usually because I rush to make a decision.  Most of the time, I do know what to do, there is just something else I would rather do.  Only rarely do I really come up against a situation where I really don’t know what to do, and that is almost always because I have gotten myself into some kind of convoluted mess.

What do I mean when I say I “know” Jesus?  This is the most important question of all.  What kind of knowing is it?  Is it the kind of knowing that would fit on a KWL chart?  Scripture says,

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

(1 Corinthians 8:1b)

We aren’t being told here to try not to know anything, but we are told that knowledge on its own is only good for making us feel more important than we really are, like a full-o’-air puffer fish.  We have to love for knowledge find its purpose.

A puffer fish puffs itself full of air to be impressive & scare away its enemies.  Christ followers aren’t to use their knowledge to impress anyone or scare them away.  Instead, we are called to use our knowledge to humbly draw others to Christ.
[Photograph by Jon Connell]

Do we marry somebody because we know them or because we love them?  I hope it’s because we love them!

Of course, we have to know them first.  I wouldn’t look across the room at a coffee shop and think, You know what?  That guy is really cute and he’s not wearing a wedding wing.  I think I love him!  I’ll marry him!  

On the other hand, I wouldn’t marry someone just because I’ve known them my whole life.  Knowing someone doesn’t have anything to do with loving them.

Here’s my challenge to you: Do you “know” Jesus just because you’ve heard about it all your life, or do you know Him and believe in Him?  Salvation is an action experience.  It’s not just knowing someone.  Believing is aligning yourself with someone.

Now it’s super important to understand: believing in Jesus isn’t the same as believing in a friend.  I can believe a friend when she tells me she’ll meet me for lunch at one o’clock.  But believing in Jesus is accepting His claims, and they are not run-of-the-mill meet-you-at-one o’clock claims.  They are life-upside-down change-you-forever claims.  Believing in Jesus is believing He is the Son of God, that He saves you from your sins, that He expects you to give up everything in the way of following Him, that He expects you to work for Him, and etc.  These aren’t optional claims.  Believing in Jesus is accepting all of what He says and does, because if He said or did even one wrong thing, He couldn’t be perfect, and if He’s not perfect, He couldn’t save us from our sins.

The claims of Jesus are all-or-nothing.  We can’t pick and choose.  He either is the perfect sacrifice, or He isn’t.  And because Jesus affirms the Old Testament Scripture in His teachings, we receive the Old Testament as His Word, too.  And because He said that He would give Peter as a rock to build the church on (the foundation for the church is Jesus), we believe everything Peter wrote, too.  And because Peter said that all Scripture is from God, every bit of the Old and New Testament belongs to Jesus.  (Peter also directly affirms Paul’s writings.)

Do you “know” Jesus the way you know George Washington and Abraham Lincoln (a KWL chart)?  Or do you know Jesus in belief, following Him in whatever He commands (a lifetime pursuit and an eternal commitment)?

There’s a big difference.

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12:26, NIV)


Photograph by Jon Connell, profile on

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.


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