(I know James Tay-tay is not exactly in line with the theological ponderings of this post. But I couldn’t resist sharing a little favorite acoustic melody with you all. What can I say? “It’s a cheerful song that makes people smile!”)
“I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.”
~ C. Spurgeon
“A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about him.”
~ J.I. Packer
As of recent I have really been musing over the concept of “knowing” someone. What does this mean? What it means to really know another individual is quite the quandary to ponder on. Also, what does it mean to “know someone well?” Does it mean to know little facts about another person? For example you may be able tell me a number of “fun tid-bits” about myself… but do you know me? If you know that I have dark brown eyes, do you know me? What if you know my favorite ice cream is Breyers mint chocolate chip ice cream? Do you know me? Again, let’s say you know the names of the people in my family. Do you know me? Surely you know me if you know where I was born right? Alas, none of these will lead to you know, truly know me.
I have concluded that the only way to honestly know someone is to spend time with them. To experience relationship with them. Really, to be in relationship with them. To invest into their life. To allow them to speak into yours. This requires trust on so many levels… and as I have mentioned before, that is not an easy thing to do a lot of the time. It can be pretty scary in fact. However, if we are to walk in relationship with God and others we must be willing to take “steps of faith.” Love requires trust. In order to love or accept love we must trust. Think about it… what do followers of Christ’s say they do when they come to know Christ as their Savior and Lord? They say, “I have placed my TRUST in Jesus Christ.”All of that being said, I understand that relationships between us and our fellow man are far different from our relationship with God. However, the first type of relationship does reflect the health of the latter type of relationship. For our relationship with God is the source of all others. They are gifts from God really.
The combination of recent opportunities to seek God’s will in my relationships with others, an encouraging word my dear brother, Gerry Breshears, shared with us this past Sunday and a conversation I had with two special friends earlier this week has turned my heart and my thoughts towards the subject of knowing God. I have been learning that life is not so much about “Knowing God’s Will,” as it is about truly “Knowing God Himself.”
There is certainly a difference in knowing God and knowing about Him. It is my goal and desire to truly know God. However, I cannot say that I am all the way there; so it is a wonderful blessing to have been given eternity to get to know more and more of Him! There are times when I forget who God is. When worry and anxiety set in there is a huge red flag that I am focusing my thoughts and heart not on who God is but rather who I want Him to be. But what I don’t realize in those dark times is that I am missing out. Most of us live, relate, dream and work from a framework of circumstantial theology: what is happening now and what we are feeling now determines what we believe now. We create a God in our minds that is ‘almost God’ but not quite. When we change what we believe in order to justify our behavior, we doubt God and His power to handle any situation. But we should keep in mind that our God is an omnipotent God, one who is all powerful. When we place our trust in Him, our image of God changes from an ‘almost God’ to an ALL MOST GOD!” When we know God our entire perspective on circumstances and the life we live changes and is transformed by the renewing of our minds.
In his book Knowing God, J.I. Packer states that, “Knowing God is a relationship calculated to thrill a person’s heart.” Wow! I never really thought about it that way. Think about what exactly God’s relationship is with His children. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, maker of heaven and earth has invited us into an intimate, personal and special friendship with Him. We are now His called servants! Our relationship with God is meant to be very personal. Packer points out the fact that we must “taste” of the experience of friendship found in knowing God before we can know the real quality of what we have been given. It is essential that we experience, meditate on and explore God, His grace, mercy and love everyday and in every area of our lives. We must be aware of His presence and lives in it to truly even begin to know Him. Knowing God and being known by Him is a two-way street; He reveals Himself to us and we expose our innermost fears, desires, thoughts, and feelings to Him. We often act as if we could really hide something from God, but in the end that is just not possible. Part of the journey of discipleship is coming to terms with our inherent nakedness before God and learning to be willing to give Him ready access to what He already knows. This is important for us, for our growth, not for God. My question for myself today is this: “Do I live like that?”
Repentance and belief/faith bring both the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit; which is the presence of God Himself actually in us. While reading I was continually reminded of the passage in Galatians5:16-26. The goal and purpose of the Spirit in us is clear here: to bear fruit of behavior that pleases God. If one’s desire is to have the qualities/fruits of the Spirit listed in5:22-23, then they can know that the Holy Spirit is leading them. At the same time, it is important that they are careful not to confuse their subject feelings to the Spirit’s leading. Being lead by the Holy Spirit involves the desire to hear, the readiness to obey God’s Word, and the sensitivity to discern between human feelings and the Spirit’s promptings. Packer poses two very good questions in his book: “Do we honor the Holy Spirit by recognizing and relying on his work? Or do we slight him by ignoring it, and thereby dishonor not merely the Spirit but the Lord who sent him?” The believer who honors the Holy Spirit lives each day controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit. The words of Christ will be in their minds, the love of Christ is behind their actions and the power of Christ helps them control their selfish desires.
Although I desire to live a Spirit lead life, sadly I must admit that there are times when the above is not true in my life. In the Galatians passage Paul describes two conflicting forces in us, the Holy Spirit and the sinful nature. Paul is certainly not saying that these forces are equal. However, it is important to note that if we rely on our own wisdom, we will make wrong choices that don’t honor the Spirit and the Lord who sent him. I know from experience that if you try to follow the Spirit by your own human effort, you will fail. Because the God who sent the law also sent the Spirit, the by-products of the Spirit-filled life are in perfect harmony with the intent of God’s law. A person who exhibits the fruit of the Spirit fulfills the law far better than a person who observes the rituals but has little love in their heart. Our only way to freedom is through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. When we trust in help of the Holy Spirit death loses power and sin loses its sting in our lives! It is so awesome how the Godhead works together to forgive, deliver, restore and reconcile us. Trusting and living in the Spirit is yet another part of knowing our awesome God!
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance to the saints..”
~ Eph. 1:18