The Balconeer Christian


How would you describe someone who truly "KNOWS" God? Not knows about God, but truly knows God from an experiential, walking with God every day?

I think the challenge for us as believers, connected again to what we saw yesterday and the "why?" behind our pursuit of God, is the danger of mistakenly confusing knowing "ABOUT" God for "KNOWING" God.

J.I. Packer, in Knowing God, makes these two points that I want to challenge us with today, and upon which I ask you to evaluate ourselves, not others:

One can know a great deal about God without much knowledge of God. Meaning, the danger is for us to be a people who know theology, know the Word, but it has no real day-to-day impact, we really aren't applying it everyday, walking according to it by faith, and in that sense never "walking with" or "communing with, knowing" God. We can know these truth, and it not translate to fellowship daily with God. There is real danger here.

One can know a great deal about godliness without much knowledge of God. Meaning that we can never experience and know God "firsthand". Our knowledge of God is "secondhand", from others, versus the joy of experiencing and communing with God firsthand. We can tell others what the Bible says God is like, but it is not because we have experienced Him ourselves. Like telling someone about the Grand Canyon, its diameter, depth, etc. because you read and studied it, but you haven't been to the Grand Canyon yourself. That's a whole different knowledge and experience when you have been there yourself firsthand.

J.I. Packer offers the following illustration to help us better assess ourselves and the "WHY?" behind our pursuit of God, and whether we are a people who truly know God or have simply settled for knowing about God. He illustrates this with two people.

The first person is what he calls a "balconeer". Someone who sits on a balcony in a foreign land and watches and overhears travelers passing by, even occasionally interacts with them. Yet in the end, they are merely onlookers. They know the streets, know the scenery, yet they do not experience it, put it into practice. Their knowledge is simply theoretical. No real decisions are made with real implications. They never walk the city and enjoy the city.

The other person is the "traveler". These people know the city by study, but they also know the city because they have experienced the city. These people put their knowledge into practice. Implications for their knowledge and decisions. They have walked the streets for themselves.Firsthand knowledge.

The challenge before us is to be deceived into settling for a "balconeer" kind of Christianity and never become a "traveler" when it comes to knowing God. To settle for knowing God theoretically rather than experientially. Never knowing God from having walked with Him daily and putting His promises and character into practice and fellowship daily.

May we use this time to step off the balconies of our lives and knowledge of God and take a leap of faith and begin to enjoy the city, enjoy fellowship with God on a daily, moment by moment basis. And truly begin to "KNOW" Him in an intimate and real way, as we were created to know Him and enjoy Him.