The famous New York diamond dealer Harry Winston heard about a wealthy Dutch merchant who was looking for a certain kind of diamond to add to his collection. Winston called the merchant, told him that he thought he had the perfect stone, and invited the collector to come to New York and examine it.
The collector flew to New York and Winston assigned a salesman to meet him and show him the diamond. When the salesman presented the diamond to the merchant he described the expensive stone by pointing out all its fine technical features. The merchant listened and praised the stone but turned away and said, “It’s a wonderful stone but not exactly what I wanted.”
Winston, who had been watching the presentation from a distance, stopped the merchant and asked, “Do you mind if I show you the diamond once again?” The merchant agreed and Winston presented the same stone. But, instead of talking about the technical features of the stone, Winston spoke spontaneously about his own genuine admiration of the diamond and what a rare thing of beauty it was. Abruptly, the customer changed his mind and bought the diamond.
While he was waiting for the diamond to be packaged and brought to him, the merchant turned to Winston and asked, “Why did I buy it from you when I had no difficulty saying no to your salesman?”
Winston replied, “The salesman is one of the best in the business and he knows more about diamonds than I do. I pay him a good salary for what he knows. But I would gladly pay him twice as much, if I could put into him something I have and he lacks. You see, he knows diamonds, but I love them.”
Do you just know about Christ? Do you unconsciously equate knowing the Bible or theology with really loving Him? Or, do you know Him and love Him? Is your Christianity rooted solely in the intellectual technicalities of the faith? Or, are you emotionally and spiritually in love with your Savior? Does He command your best thoughts, draw out your deepest desires, and secure your happy and willing allegiance? Have you experienced His wooing? His attractive presence? Is there a joyful spontaneity about your relationship? Or, is your Christianity predictable—akin to watching the same ol’ miserable reruns you once loved, but have now grown quite tired of? Your life can burst forth like a song, you know, it doesn’t have to read like a telephone book!
Listen to the passion of the apostle Paul: “My purpose is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10-11). When I read this passage the first time (and many times since), I bowed my head and asked God to grant me the same heart he gave Paul. Wouldn’t it be great, I imagined, to love Christ like this! So free! So fearless! So all encompassing! I want to know him, experience his power, share in his sufferings, and be like Christ in his death. I want my life to be so taken up into His that I might be able to cry out, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21)! There are moments, however, when I shudder to think how God might fulfill that prayer, but in the end his perfect love drives out all fear.
In short, I think it’s necessary to know and understand theology, the scriptural text in detail, church history, apologetics, and anything else that stimulates our thinking and commitment to truth. But, blessed are those who love our Lord Jesus Christ more than these; who understand the difference between finding a famous site on a map and being there to enjoy it in person. Blessed are those who love Him with an undying love (Eph 6:24). Blessed are those who intuit the difference between knowing a lot about diamonds and loving the One, True Diamond!