Every life has a theme. Like a novel, it takes a few pages for the theme to crystallize. It took about 30 years for me to figure out mine.
Eight letters. Three words. One simple message.
I’ve always been one to try to distill a message, a life, a truth down to its irreducible essence. So I can remember it. Keep focused on it. Live it.
I believe the Bible is our guiding light for living life. And during the first 20 or so years of my life, I had it reduced down to one word which I tried to live by. Do.
I believed that the Christian life was summed up in the word “do.” God saved me when I was 19. But I had grown up in church. And so my concept of the Christian life already centered around the word “do.” I had a list of dos and don’ts for Christians. And I, the king of “To Do” lists, even had a “To Do” list of things I needed to do—or stop doing—now that I had become a Christian. I started working my way down that list, ticking off items one by one and feeling like I was progressing nicely as a Christian.
But I was drifting off into legalism, where your external actions are the most important measure of your Christian walk and where God is primarily a judging, wrathful God who waited to zap me every time I messed up—which was constantly.
That’s when I discovered that the Christian walk was not all about “do,” but more about “be.” I needed to focus more on being who I am in Christ—a brand new person who is complete in Christ, who is completely forgiven, fully pleasing to God, and totally accepted and deeply loved by Him (check out Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee).
When the lights finally came on to this truth, I began to focus more on the internal than the external. And what I discovered is that if you focus on the internal, the external seems to take care of itself.
I even developed a formula for integrity. Be = Do. Be who you are in Christ, and you will do what He wants you to do. And that’s the very definition of integrity. Total consistency and agreement between who you are (be) and how you behave (do).
So I had learned a lot about myself that made me see God in a different light. But I wasn’t quite through yet. Because although I had learned a lot about the nature of me, I had hit a plateau in my Christian walk. Focusing on the internal had its limitations. God had one final word He wanted to add to my little life theme: Know.To know Him more and more. That’s a focus on the eternal. Because as I get to know Him, I will understand how He relates to me, and how I relate to Him. I will see myself as He sees me. That’s “Be.” And then once I understand who He is (Know) and who I am (Be), I will be prepared and motivated to act as He wants (Do). So here are the focal points:
Know—focus on the eternal.
Be—focus on the internal.
Do—focus on the external.
I believe that God even assigns a particular member of the Holy Trinity to superintend each of these realms.
God the Son (Jesus) set the supreme example for all our actions (Do).
God the Holy Spirit guides our spirit with regard to who we are (Be).
God the Father created us so that we could relate to Him (Know).
We see this Know-Be-Do triad all through Scripture, but my favorite passage that illustrates it is 1 John 5:13-21. The apostle John is the “know” writer in the Bible, using the word way more often than any other writer. John uses the word “know” a number of times in this passage. But what’s interesting is that when he gets to the end, he uses a different Greek word for “know” the final time in verse 20, “that we might know him that is true.” The other “knows” in the passage are head-knowledge knows. But this last one is a special word that means “know” in an intimate way, the way a husband and wife know each other, the way sheep know the shepherd’s voice. God wants us to know Him in the most intimate way possible. That’s why He created us.
Another way of looking at it is through the three-part nature of man. Created in the likeness of God, man is a three-part being: physical (body), mental (mind, will, emotions), and spiritual. Each of these parts has a focal point:
There’s so much more I could write about this theme of my life—Know. Be. Do. But the bottom line is that our main purpose for existing is to know God. To the extent that we know Him, we will begin to see ourselves for who we really are—no more, no less—and once we live in an awareness of Who He is and who we are in Christ, we will live out our lives—not naturally, but supernaturally—in trust and obedience.
So, I endeavor to live my life in a lifelong quest to know God better and better each day. To study the Scriptures for information about His character and how He relates to me. And to look for His hand in everyday life. The rest takes care of itself.
Know. Be. Do. Eight letters. Three words. What could be simpler? And what could be more complex? It takes a lifetime just to scratch the surface. But we have all eternity to get to know Him better.