I have heard You by the hearing ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:5–6—NKJV)

America has been described as a “Christian” nation. Two reasons are given for such a description. The first reason, quite appropriately, states that many of the early immigrants, as well as founding fathers, leaned heavily upon their brand of Christianity, basing their thinking and morality upon the Bible and allowing its subtle influences to be threaded throughout our founding and governing documents. The second reason, which has had a bit of “air-time” of late, is that our population is predominantly “Christian” in religion.

While the first reason is beyond dispute to any fair minded person, the second is genuinely debatable when viewed through the prism of whether doctrinal and creedal beliefs hold absolute sway in all matters of practice. Consider the difference in meaning between “a Christian nation” versus “a nation of Christians.”

True Christianity, as distinct from cultural Christianity, requires a personal, seamless continuity from belief to action, from God’s sovereignty to my obeisance, and from being born from above to new life in Christ. Many pray for revival in our land, and rightly so. But revival is never authentic without tears of contrition for sin, repentance through a change of mind reflected in an irreversibly changed life.

Job tells us something very striking in the two verses stated above. He said that hearing and knowing about God is not enough. His words reflect the trembling of His soul and the radically transforming effect of “seeing” God; he was driven to repent in dust and ashes (signifying the agony of heart over his presumption and self-righteous vindication before God).

It has been said that someone can miss heaven by twelve inches—the distance from the head to the heart, the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. Undoubtedly, many who would style themselves as Christians in our land have a certain measure of head knowledge (“I have heard You by the hearing ear”), but to this very day do not have a heart knowledge (“but now my eye sees You”). Take a quiet moment and honestly look within the recesses of your heart and chose which phrase most accurately describes you. In chapter 26 Job tells of the knowledge he has of the might and right of God. It may surprise you as you read the chapter to see how much Job accurately knew in his head of the wonders found in God’s creation. Job speaks of the hydrologic cycle while alluding to the great weight of water in the clouds (verse 8). He speaks of the sphericity of the earth (verse 10), the compass points as well as the axis of the earth (verse 7), and the fact that the globe hangs upon nothing (a far cry from the mythological shoulders of a turtle, an elephant or of Atlas). He knew the raw power God has placed in His creation in the storm, the thunder, the earthquake, the sea, as well as the sheer expansiveness of the stars garnishing space (even the constellation of Serpens which spreads across a great deal of our night time sky gains mention in verse 13). In verse 14 Job states in great wonder, “These are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him!”

Your knowledge about God may be voluminous, but as vaunted as your knowledge of the Infinite One may be, it is a mere whisper of who He is. Job has a one-way conversation from God at the end of the book (chapters 38 to 41) in which he finds out how little he really does know. Despite his protestations of innocence and self-righteousness as compared to other men, he does not prevail under the spotlight of the pure bright righteousness, all-knowing wisdom, God-sized, longsuffering grace of the Almighty. He is woefully undeserving of the least of the favors of God. He confesses he has but one option—to repent and fall upon the mercy of God. I am sure his tears were bittersweet as God always wraps His arms around the genuinely repentant and trusting sinner.

Do you merely have “head knowledge” about God? Are there evidences that you think, talk, and make your choices from a spiritually quickened heart because you have, by the grace of God, been born from above (John 3:3, 16). If you have the slightest question about your “Christianity” do not let false pride get in your way—plead to God for your salvation and trust His promised Word (Ephesians 2:8–10). Watch God transform your life. Trust and obey.