Imagine a small woman named Maria who has lived her entire life in a remote village along the Amazon river. All she knows about life is that the river is the key source of everything she needs to live. She is illiterate but she knows how to read the river and live from the river. Maria knows the river. Maria loves the river.
This woman accepts Jesus. He becomes life to her inner world just as the river is life to her outer world. She is deeply in love with Jesus. She knows Jesus.
Far away in the great city of São Paulo is a world famous professor who has studied the rivers of the world and their impact on ecosystems. He is considered the most knowledgeable person in the world when it comes to river systems. Of all the rivers he most admires and studies the Amazon river. He, too, is a believer in Jesus.
One day this professor comes to the tiny village where Maria has lived her entire life.
As the professor speaks with Maria he begins to realize that to her the river is life. To him the river has been a fascinating subject and a challenge to dominate. He has known the river but he has never lived the river.
Who really knows the river best, Maria or the professor? The person who depends upon something to live truly knows. Maria knows the river. The professor knows about the river.
Even so, Maria hangs on every word the professor says. She has always wanted to find out all the facts about the river. Where does it begin? Where does it end? Why does it rise and fall always in the same months. Why has it never stopped? Who started it?
Maria already loves and lives the river. In reality the professor should hang on her every word. She knows what he does not yet know. If he could humble himself and let Maria teach him about the river, he would begin to live the river, too.
So it is with the poor of the world who know Jesus. Those of us who have made Christianity a fascinating subject and a challenge to dominate would do well to listen to the Marias of the world. Those of us who have only studied Jesus would do well to grow quiet in the presence of those who live Jesus.
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.