How many have touched a wall or a fence that had a ‘Wet Paint’ sign nearby just to see if it really was wet? How many as a kid just had to touch the burner on the stove to see if mom’s warning about it being hot was really true? Maybe that connection between what we know and what we feel isn’t quite as easy to make as we think. How else do you explain the desire to touch what we’ve been told not to?
Spiritually speaking, I believe that connection is even harder to make. Consequentially, a large number of Christians today fall into one of two camps: intellectual Christians and experiential Christians.
Experiential Christians tend to base their relationship with God around their feelings. They want to ‘get their praise on’ and aren’t incredibly concerned with learning anything that can’t be learned through experience.
Intellectual Christians base their relationship with God around what they have learned from study. They know a lot about God and tend to be cautious about experiences because they have a hard time wrapping their head around those things.
If I were to simplify even more, I would say that intellectual Christians worship with their head and experiential Christians worship with their hearts.
Here lies the problem with those approaches on their own.
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.””
John 4:24 ESV
We are told that we should be worshipping in spirit (the heart) and in truth (the head). Somehow we must find a way for our relationship with God to cross that 18 inch bridge from the head to the heart so that we can engage in the kind of worship that truly pleases God.
This is essentially the challenge that I have laid out to the worship team that I pastor. I want our worship to go to a new level. I want the roots of our faith to spread deeper into the soil of God’s truth so that the fruit of our experience can be seen all around.
The real question is, ‘How do we bridge the gap?’ I’m not sure that there is a definite answer, but here is where I would suggest starting. If you find yourself to be more of an intellectual Christian, make a conscious effort to relate what you know about God to your everyday experiences in life. Similarly, if you tend to be more experiential, when you have an experience with God, dive into His Word to learn more about what He is choosing to do in your life.
Could you imagine the depth of our worship if we could bridge the gap and begin to worship both in spirit AND in truth? I think that would be a very powerful experience for all involved and I believe that it would carry us outside of the four walls of the church.
What group do you identify with? How can you try to bridge that gap in your own life?