As we embark with J. I. Packer on our journey through Knowing God, we are taking the ‘road less traveled.” Ths phrase comes from a poem by Robert Frost (Mountain Interval. 1920. The Road Not Taken).
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
In his 1973 Preface to Knowing God, Packer discusses two diverging “roads” that people must choose between when they engage the Christian faith, which then divides them into two types of people. The first type Packer calls balconeers, since they tend to keep their distance from those whom Packer calls travelers, or to paraphrase one of the early preachers to whom I am indebted, J. Vernon McGee, from those whose personal rubber has met the demands of the challenging Christian road, the narrow road that Jesus talked of. These spectators, as I like to refer to them, are also on a road, it’s just one that is short and sweet, makes limited personal demands, is politically correct and non-judgmental, and allows the weeds of compromise to grow throughout its spiritual ecology. It absolutely refuses to allow any absolute demands, since on this road everything is relative.
The second group, the travelers previously referenced, are on the road less traveled by, since both its demands and possibilities are eternally endless. This road is long and sometimes bitter, where one often encounters judgment and correction, and while love and joy populate its miles, it abhors compromise. It absolutely makes all sorts of absolute demands.
As a result, those who enter into a study of Knowing God accept becoming part of the second group and over the course of their upcoming journey expect a few bumps and bruises along the way as they judge their beliefs against God’s demands, accepting correction where due, and refusing to compromise the truth that God reveals to them and requires from them. For they know that not only will they learn about the God in whom they live and move and have their being, but they will learn much about themselves, some of which may not be pretty.
As we move into our first lesson (course materials here), which covers an introduction and the two Prefaces in the book, remember that God loves you, has saved you through His Son Jesus Christ, and has brought you to this point, this moment for a reason. Embrace everything He has for you, and take that first step with us.
Grace and peace and blessings be to you.
Another analogy might be football in origin. There is a difference between the stands and the field. Each person prepares for the game differently. Each sees the game from a different view and each puts effort into the game differently.
Only one wears the super bowl ring – not the guy with the beer can and pennant.
Or to take your analogy further, only one wears eternal life, not the one in the stands watching the sanctification struggle on the field.