Love: Theory and Practicality

The difference between doing and knowing, and why both are important

In the realm of academia, there are two types of knowledge: Theoretical Knowledge, or how something should function, and Practical Knowledge, how something does function. For teachers, being able to use and teach both in the classroom are equally important. Knowing why math works is just as important as knowing how to solve a problem.

For the Christian, both types of knowledge are also necessary, especially in relation to love and Christ. Without one or the other, the Christian is in many ways incomplete, lacking something very critical.

Some people, like me, are more prone to theoretical knowledge. I love knowing the why’s and how’s of something. The same is often true of how I study and approach my Biblical studies. I know many of the facts and figures, the “who-did-what’s,” and the different doctrines. Basically, I am a pro at studying Jesus.

The crucial flaw here, is that while this approach may lead to lots of head knowledge, it doesn’t really get you in touch the person of Christ. In his masterfully whimsical book (his words, not mine…but it really is whimsy) Love Does, author Bob Goff refers to this type of knowledge as “Jesus Stalking.”

Think about it. A stalker can memorize a ton of information about a person, without ever really getting to know them. In the same way, we could memorize the entire Bible, but never really understand or know Christ.

Other people are more prone to practical knowledge. These are the people that don’t care so much about the why’s, but just want to take action. In the realm of Christianity, these are the Christians that have relatively little knowledge about Biblical doctrine, but are always working on the next mission trip or serving somewhere.

The flaw here is that this type of person may be “hanging out” with Christ, but doesn’t know anything about him. We have all had those friends (especially in high school) that we spend time with now and again, but aren’t very close.

This can easily lead to the type of individual that may be serving often, but can’t defend Biblical truth with anything more than a, “Well I just love Jesus, and that’s all that matters.” What is even worse is when this type of individual is called on to explain a Biblical concept and ends up leading listeners astray.

The point here is not to criticize one group or another. Both types of individuals are necessary for the Church to thrive. A church needs sound Biblical doctrine to actually be effective, but in order to effect anybody, it must also do something.

Here’s another way to think about it: To love something, you must first know about it. The more you know about it, the more you fall in love with it. Newlyweds are in the throes of passion on the wedding day, yet the couple that has been married for 60 years will have a connection that is infinitely deeper.

Their love grows as their connection and knowledge of each other grows! But how does it grow? They spend time together! They talk with each other, they go on trips together, the laugh and cry, and they serve together.

Knowing (meaning theory) and doing (meaning practicality) are two sides of the same coin. Neither is complete without the other.


Goff, Bob. Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012. Print


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